All four schools with basketball teams competing in the Final Four games of March Madness have weighed in on Indiana’s controversial religious, expressing concern that the law could open the door to discrimination against gay people.
The statements, by representatives for the University of Kentucky, Duke University, the University of Wisconsin, and Michigan State University, come as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) finally gave in and said Tuesday that he wanted to see a clarification to the law so that it’s clear that no one would be discriminated against.
The legislation, which Pence signed last week, bars governments from forcing businesses to serve gay customers if there are religious objections. On Tuesday Pence said he wanted to see a clarification to the law by the end of the week.
The Final Four March Madness games start April 4 in Indianapolis. The National Collegiate Athletic Association said it was “concerned” over the law but still planned to host the Final Four games in Indiana.
Duke Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld said Tuesday that his school “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.”
“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,” Schoenfeld said.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto told The Huffington Post that his school has a “strong and enduring commitment to the values of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. 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.”
Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said she hoped Indiana could come to an agreement on “how to best welcome all people.”
“While there has been much discussion about the new law passed in Indiana, we hope the citizens and lawmakers of that state can reach a consensus on how to best welcome all people, regardless of background,” Simon said in a statement. “Here at MSU, we are guided by values embedded in our rich heritage as a leading land-grant university. Inclusion is foremost among our values – treating all members of the community with fairness and dignity.”
University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said she was taking the criticism of the Indiana law “very seriously.”
“Diversity and inclusion of all people are core principles at the University of Wisconsin–Madison,” Blank said. “The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act mirrors laws in place in a number of states and at the federal level. But I take the concerns that have been raised very seriously. I look forward to a discussion with my Big Ten counterpart presidents and chancellors about the impact of the Indiana law.”