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NCAA implements anti-discrimination rules for all hosting cities

(WISH Photo, File)

Indianapolis (WISH) — The NCAA is taking new steps to protect people from discrimination at its events.

From now on, any city bidding for an NCAA event will have to prove how they’ll provide an environment free of discrimination.

The NCAA board approved the measure at its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

According to a release, this comes after several states passed laws allowing people to refuse services to others, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While the NCAA didn’t name specific states, North Carolina and Mississippi have recently passed laws that critics say allow discrimination against the LBGT community.

The new NCAA policy means any city bidding for or hosting an event, from the Final Four to smaller conferences, will have to show the NCAA how exactly it will provide a environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination. The NCAA also now prohibits championship events in states where governments display the confederate flag.

In addition, NCAA members cannot host championship events if their school nicknames use Native American imagery considered abusive or offensive.

“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” said NCAA Board of Governors Chair Kirk Schulz, “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.”

Last year, during Indiana’s RFRA controversy, the NCAA was one of the first organizations to raise concerns about the law. That happened right before the 2015 men’s Final Four tournament. The NCAA had said it would consider moving future events out of Indianapolis because of the law, but the NCAA worked with lawmakers to develop the so-called “RFRA fix.” NCAA officials said they were pleased with the changes.

The NCAA says the new policy is effective immediately, even in any current bidding for events. A diversity committee will also look at already awarded sites. Indianapolis is scheduled to host the Men’s Final Four in 2021.