WICHITA (TNS) — San Diego State plans to travel to Wichita for the NCAA men's basketball tournament this week, but the university will not be able to use California taxpayer dollars to finance the trip.
California banned state-funded travel to Kansas last year after determining that the Sunflower State has laws that it views as discriminatory toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families.
The policy prohibits public universities in California from scheduling sporting events with teams in Kansas and seven other states — Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
And it means travel to post-season play — like San Diego State's first-round game against Houston in Wichita — has to be funded with private money.
The university faced the same dilemma last year when it was invited to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, said Mike May, senior associate athletic director of communication for San Diego State.
"We've dealt with this a couple of times," May said. "It means we have to use non-state funds for any expenses that are incurred."
For the bowl game, the San Diego State athletics department used money from its Campanile Foundation, which handles donations to the university, officials said. The Mountain West Conference reimbursed the athletics department for the cost of the trip, and the department reimbursed the foundation.
"It's more of an accounting situation, but . . . it does add a wrinkle," May said.
Kansas is on California's travel prohibition list because of a 2016 law that enables campus religious groups to restrict their membership to students that adhere to a religion's tenets. That law, signed by former Gov. Sam Brownback, was crafted partially in response to a controversy in California that occurred when a Christian student group lost recognition on California State University campuses for failure to comply with an “all comers” non-discrimination policy in 2014.
Opponents of the Kansas law previously raised concern that it would allow for discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and gender on taxpayer-funded campuses. Supporters said it was necessary to protect religious freedom on campus.
Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-Leavenworth, who sponsored the Kansas legislation, said last year that the California attorney general's office misunderstood the purpose of the law.
"I think there's more evidence now that when we build the wall we need to build it up the California border," Fitzgerald told The Eagle at the time, referring to President Trump's plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico.