In 2016, a North Carolina state law altered the sports calendar. The state lost the NBA All-Star Game, ACC football championship, and other college championships because of opposition to a state law that discriminated against LGBT people. Events are likely returning, after an alteration to the law.
In 2017, California has introduced and expanded a ban on taxpayer-funded travel to eight states with laws it views as discriminatory. Those are now Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this month signed a law that allows child welfare providers to deny services because of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” a provision that critics interpreted as permitting adoption agencies to deny services to gay families.
Alabama and South Dakota were added to California’s list of banned states because of similar adoption-related laws. The California Department of Justice said Kentucky’s Senate Bill 17 allows student-run organizations in schools to discriminate against classmates.
The California law includes exemptions for law enforcement officers, tax auditors and training events that are required for grants. California’s tax-collecting Board of Equalization has an office in Houston.
Sports aren’t exactly the most important issue in this dispute. But since many college teams do deal with public funds when fulfilling travel contracts, it’s something that’ll need figured out soon.
Four FBS California public schools are scheduled to travel to one of the eight states this season:
- Cal at North Carolina
- Fresno State at Alabama
- San Jose State at Texas
- UCLA at Memphis
And these football games are also on the books in later seasons:
- 2019: Cal at Ole Miss
- 2020: Fresno State at Texas A&M
- 2021: Cal at TCU
- 2024: Cal at Auburn
These games will likely proceed as planned.
From AL.com, which looked into the Fresno State-Bama game (emphasis added):
According to Fresno State’s website, employee travel to the states first added to the ban (North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee) will not be reimbursed unless it meets one of several exemptions. Travel to the recently announced states is not yet addressed on the site.
Among the exemptions is travel related to contracts signed before Jan. 1, 2017. Fresno inked its deal to play Alabama in 2015, according to reports.
Claire Dean, a spokesperson for the University of California system, said if a university’s athletic team committed to participate in an event before Jan. 1, 2017, “then it’s permissible to use state funds. However, if a contract was entered on or after that, then state funds cannot be used for travel.”
A request for a legal opinion on whether public university sports travel is exempted from the restrictions has been filed with [attorney general Xavier] Becerra’s office but no ruling has been issued, according to reports.
But yet-to-be-scheduled games and postseason games could be in jeopardy.
This list of games is just from top-level football (Cal basketball dropped out of talks with the Jayhawks because of Kansas’ law) and doesn’t include postseason games, such as the Pac-12’s annual spot in the relatively prestigious Alamo Bowl. If the Alamo wanted Cal or UCLA, for example, could that school argue that since the conference’s contract with the bowl was signed before 2017, it thus has exempt status?