With some recent exceptions, Indianapolis is the epicenter of major Big Ten sporting events. But the Big Ten now must consider whether it wants to keep its biggest showcases in the Hoosier State after the signing of a controversial new Indiana law that some think could allow businesses to discriminate against gay people.
The Big Ten Conference and its member institutions believe in promoting an inclusive environment in which athletic competition can operate free from discrimination. The conference is aware of the bill that was recently signed into law in the state of Indiana and will further review its impact at the next scheduled meetings of its administrators, presidents and chancellors.
It's too late for the NCAA to move next week's men's basketball Final Four from Indianapolis, and Emmert said the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, will "work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors ... are not impacted negatively by this bill."
But the Big Ten could change venues for one or more of its upcoming events if its presidents and chancellors believe it's warranted because of the new law. A spokesman for Indiana Gov. Mark Pence said the law would not undermine anti-discrimination laws already in place in the state.
The Big Ten's first four football championship games have taken place at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the league is contracted to have the game there through 2021. The Big Ten men's and women's basketball tournament is set to be played in Indianapolis next year. The men's tournament is scheduled for Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2020 and 2022, and the women's tournament will be played there every year through the 2022 event.
Indianapolis is unquestionably a great location for major Big Ten events, but it's not the only option. The league has an opportunity to take a stand. Friay's statement wasn't as strong as the NCAA's, but commissioner Jim Delany and other top league officials eventually will have to speak more extensively about the new law.
Big Ten athletic directors, faculty representatives and senior woman administrators meet May 18-20, and the league's Council of Presidents/Chancellors next meets June 7. Both meetings will take place at Big Ten headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois.