Currently scheduled college athletic events in Texas involving California public schools are safe after a California ruling banning state-sponsored travel to Texas.
On Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Texas and three other states were being put on a list of states that had adopted laws seen by Becerra as discriminatory to the LGBT community and therefore were off-limits for state-sponsored travel. Becerra put Texas on the travel-ban list after the Texas governor signed HB 3859 last week. The new law allows foster care agencies to deny adoptions and services to children and parents based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Becerra said the measure allows agencies to discriminate against children in foster care and potentially disqualify LGBT families from the state’s foster and adoption system.
Texas joins Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota as the newest additions to California’s Assembly Bill 1887 travel restrictions due to the adoption of discriminatory state legislation.
Games that have been scheduled and contracts signed before Jan. 1, 2017, are exempt from the California ban.
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Among those already set are San Jose State at Texas in football on Sept. 9 this season, and Cal at TCU in 2021. The Cal-TCU game was set in 2014.
A home-and-home basketball series between Texas A&M and Southern California and a football home-and-home agreement between Texas and the Trojans, both slated for 2017-2018, will be unaffected by the travel restrictions because USC is a private institution.
Future college events hosted in Texas that involve or could potentially involve California public universities could be in jeopardy.
The ramifications are murkier, however, for national events in Texas whose participants are determined in-season.
Two yearly bowl games with Pac-12 ties – the Valero Alamo Bowl and Hyundai Sun Bowl – are played in San Antonio and El Paso, and the Cotton Bowl will host a national semifinal at AT&T Stadium in 2018.
While most California public schools have stated they will not schedule future games in the restricted states – which also include Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee – some have skirted the ban by funding travel on their own.
UCLA, for example, sent its basketball team to Tennessee to play in the Sweet 16 this past spring with non-public funds.
A UCLA spokesman told the Wichita Eagle in January that should, “the NCAA assign us to a tournament bracket in a state affected by AB 1887, barring unforeseen circumstances, we will not deny our student-athletes the right to participate in postseason play.”
The Texas ban comes two months after the NCAA decided to ended its boycott of sites in North Carolina after the state replaced its controversial “bathroom bill” that regulated transgender access to bathroom and locker room facilities.
A similar Texas bill failed to pass in the regular legislative session this January, but Governor Greg Abbott announced on Jun. 6 that the regulations will be on the agenda again during a special session in mid-July.
None of the restricted sites in California’s AB 1887 are currently boycotted by the NCAA.