SDSU Says It Will Play in Idaho Despite Banned Status

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San Diego State University says it will use a workaround to skirt a California law that prohibits public universities and other public entities from using funds to travel to states with discriminatory laws in place.

Aztec athletic director John David Wicker said his school will use private funds for trips to Idaho, which recently became the 12th state to be placed on California’s list of banned states.

Attorney general Xavier Becerra added Idaho to the list of states last month, citing two new Idaho laws that he said allow discrimination against transgender people. One repeals protections enabling transgender students to compete on athletic teams consistent with their gender identity; the second bars amending birth certificates so they are consistent with the person’s gender identity.

A 2017 California law barred state-funded travel to other states with laws on the books deemed discriminatory. Assembly Bill 1887, which had until recently banned taxpayer funded travel to Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas was expanded to include Idaho on Wednesday, creating a potential issue for California schools that play in the Mountain West Conference.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego State University, San Jose State University and Fresno State University have each said that they will continue to travel to Idaho for events against Mountain West foe Boise State — but will use private funds to pay for those trips.

Boise State is slated to host the opening weekend of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which could provide complications if neither state is willing to budge on its laws. Meanwhile, a group of both professional and collegiate athletes sent a letter to the NCAA urging the association to move the tournament site.

“Failure to move these events out of Idaho contradicts the NCAA’s core values, your own policies and guidance, and implicitly endorses Idaho’s discriminatory law,” the athletes’ letter said.

Idaho governor Brad Little rejected California’s decision, saying in a statement, “I do not believe that protecting the rights of women and girls to participate in athletics or recording objective facts constitute discrimination.”

“We won’t use state funds to travel there,” Wicker told The San Diego Tribune. “It’s unfortunate to see certain laws in certain states that could negatively impact people, but Boise State is a member of our conference and we’ll continue to play games there. However, we would never put our student-athletes in a situation where they are in harm’s way.” 

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