Business & Economy

Author of California anti-discrimination law wants UCLA to boycott Sweet 16

UCLA's Lonzo Ball
UCLA's Lonzo Ball

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The author of a new California law banning state-funded travel to states deemed to be restricting LGBT rights wants UCLA to skip Friday's highly anticipated Sweet 16 matchup against No. 2 seed Kentucky in Memphis. Tennessee is one of four states singled out by the law. 

"I’m disappointed in UCLA’s decision to travel to Tennessee," said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), who represents parts of Silicon Valley.

UCLA is not technically violating the law, he said, because the athletic department doesn't use state funds, but he thinks the school should still miss the game.

"Boycotting the game would have been an opportunity for UCLA to take a strong stand against Tennessee’s discrimination against members of the LGBT community," said Low.

"We will not deny our student-athletes the right to participate in postseason play," Josh Rupprecht, UCLA's senior associate athletic director, wrote in an e-mail.

But Rupprecht added that going forward, UCLA will not schedule games in states included in the law. 

"UCLA and UCLA Athletics are fully committed to promoting and protecting equity, diversity and inclusion as set forth in the University's Principles of Community," he said.

The law bans state-funded travel to Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, which is on the list because of a state law that allows therapists to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist's religious or personal beliefs.

Last year, the NCAA pulled seven of its events from North Carolina, including men's tournament games, over the so-called "bathroom law," which restricts some LGBT rights. The NCAA said recently that it would maintain the ban until the state changes its laws. 

Asked why the organization also did not withdraw from Tennessee, a spokeswoman told the Sacramento Bee that the NCAA considers North Carolina's laws more extreme.