NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday that the organization is "surprised and disappointed" about a new Indiana law that could allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians, adding that the NCAA is keeping a close eye on possible changes -- if not a total repeal -- before it is scheduled to go into effect in July.
"I'm anxiously awaiting whatever clarification that the legislature can bring forward to this bill so we can really know what it means and what it doesn't mean," Emmert told ESPN's Andy Katz on Monday in his first comments on the new legislation. "As it becomes better understood, we're going to have to sit down and make judgments about whether or not it changes the environment for us doing our work and for us holding events."
The law, signed by Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday, would prohibit state and local laws that "substantially burden" the ability of people -- including businesses and associations -- to follow their religious beliefs.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay also shared his thoughts on the law Monday with a tweet in which he trumpeted the inclusiveness and tolerance of his franchise.
The Colts have always embraced inclusiveness, tolerance, and a diverse fan base. We welcome ALL fans to Colts Nation. ONE FAMILY!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 30, 2015
The NFL also issued a statement Monday on Indiana's new law:
"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," the statement read. "We are continuing to analyze the implications of the law."
Indiana's Republican legislative leaders said Monday they are working on adding language to the law to make it clear that it doesn't allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, while Democrats countered that a full repeal is the only way to stem the widespread criticism.
"The law has a lot of uncertainty and obviously lacks clarity, but anything that could potentially allow for discrimination and works in a way that is inconsistent with our values for inclusion is something that we're very, very concerned about," Emmert told ESPN.
"... It does clearly need to be addressed, whether it's a repeal or whether it's some language change that makes it self-evident that there's not discriminatory practices that can be condoned under this model. It's going to be a decision they have to make, but they have to deal with it."
Businesses and organizations across the country have canceled future travel to Indiana, tabled expansion plans or criticized the legislation. Opponents have taken to social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana.
Connecticut's governor and UConn's athletic director called on the NCAA to consider moving next year's Women's Final Four out of Indianapolis unless changes are made to the law.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order banning state spending on travel to Indiana and says the NCAA would be wise to move the tournament.
"We have gay men and women who play NCAA sports, and to hold a tournament in a state that has passed, and really quite frankly has flaunted, laws that would lead to discrimination against those athletes, is not a wise place to have a tournament," Malloy said.
UConn athletic director Warde Manuel told The Associated Press he finds the law unacceptable. He said he hopes Indiana rectifies the situation before UConn or any other institution considers a boycott of the 2016 Final Four.
"If it doesn't change, then I would encourage the NCAA to look to move the venue so that we wouldn't get into a situation where any institution would have to consider that kind of choice," he said.
Emmert told ESPN that the NCAA was "surprised and disappointed" that the bill moved so quickly through the state legislature and was signed by Pence.
The LGBT Sports Coalition has called for the NCAA, the Big Ten, the NFL, USA Diving and USA Gymnastics to pull scheduled events from Indianapolis over the next 16 months.
"What we had hoped for with the bill was a message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious beliefs," Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said Monday. "What instead has come out as a message of exclusion, and that was not the intent."
The Big Ten has held its football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium since 2011 and has a contract to remain there until 2021. The conference also is scheduled to hold its men's basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2020 and 2022.
The Big Ten women's basketball tournament is set to be held in Indianapolis from 2017 to 2022. This year's U.S. national gymnastics championships and next year's diving Olympic team trials will be held in Indianapolis.
The Final Four is scheduled to return to Indianapolis in 2021, and the city hopes to land the 2019 Super Bowl.
The NCAA offices have been a mainstay in downtown Indianapolis since 1999, when the NCAA relocated from Kansas in part because of a rich public-private investment deal from the city to establish the headquarters.
"We simply have to operate our events and conduct our affairs in an environment that reflects the core values of what higher education is about," Emmert told ESPN. "And that's for an environment that celebrates diversity and provides for a very inclusive, supportive environment."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.