The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been accused of hypocrisy after its Board of Governors decided to prohibit states from hosting tournaments if they have laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
At its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, the board adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions from the Men's and Women's Final Fours to educational events such as leadership development conference.
Hosts or bidders will have to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, free of discrimination and safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event, the NCAA said in a statement.
"The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds," said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors. "So it is important that we assure that community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination."
The decision comes at the wake of new laws in Mississippi and North Carolina that critics said are anti-LGBT.
Last month, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law House Bill 1523 that protects sincerely held religious beliefs of religious organisations, private individuals and businesses against any action by the state.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed House Bill 2 that provides that bathroom use should be based on the user's biological gender.
The NCAA board said its decision is based on recent actions in state legislatures which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
It said its decision reaffirms the NCAA's "commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead and fans engage."
However, a Christian pastor said the NCAA's decision had nothing to do with inclusiveness.
"Make no mistake about it, this move is about the continuation of promoting the radical gay agenda and the targeting for punishment of those who don't fall in line," said Pastor Carl Gallups, who also hosts a weekly radio show in Florida, according to WND.
He added, "The NCAA statement quickly disclosed that it was most concerned about 'sexual orientation.' The political correctness of their feigned concern for equity is fraught with hypocrisy."