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Final Four Coaches, University Officials Weigh In on Indiana's RFRA

Final Four Coaches, University Officials Weigh In on Indiana's RFRA


Officials with the schools competing in this weekend's NCAA finals are speaking out on Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Coaches and officials from each of the schools competing for the Division I Men's Basketball Championship title in the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis this weekend have released statements responding to Indiana's contentious new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The consensus among all four schools regarding the antigay legislation? The schools stand in solidarity with LGBT people and oppose discrimination.

In a collective statement, basketball coaches from Duke University, the University of Kentucky, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin said they are in united in "strongly support[ing] the positions of the NCAA and our respective institutions on this matter -- discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated."

"As a part of America's higher education system, college basketball plays an important role in diversity, equality, fairness and inclusion, and will continue to do so in the future," the joint declaration signed by head coaches of all four teams reads, according to Indianapolis TV station WXIN.

After Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law late last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association issued a statement expressing its concern "about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees." NBA legend and commentator Charles Barkley went even further, urging the NCAA to move the Final Four out of Indiana, even though the annual championship tournament has been held in Indianapolis for years. Fellow NBA veteran and commentator Jason Collins, who was also the first openly gay man to play in the NBA, has questioned whether he and other LGBT athletes, fans, and employees would be welcome in Indianapolis for the tournament.

In addition to coaches and commentators speaking out, high-ranking university officials have also released pro-LGBT statements regarding their stance on Indiana's RFRA.

"Duke University continues to stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal and inclusive world, and we deplore any effort to legislate bias and discrimination," said Duke's vice president of public affairs, Michael Schoenfeld. "We share the NCAA's concern about the potential impact of the new law, and will be vigilant to ensure that our student-athletes, supporters, and indeed all citizens and visitors are treated fairly and with respect."

"We are a community that welcomes and celebrates the multitude of backgrounds, identities and perspectives. We encourage the vigorous debate about the intent and impact of this issue," added University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto.

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