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Travel Ban Turns California Teams to Private Dollars

Jason Scott

It’s been three years since California passed a law barring state-funded travel to a set of states with what the states view as discriminatory laws against LGBTQ people on the books — but in that time college sports teams have found ways to fund their trips to play opponents in those states.

The Los Angeles Times reports that for many college athletics programs, private donations from boosters or corporate sponsors have served as a way to get around the travel ban, allowing state-funded athletics teams to travel to the banned states, a list that includes Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee or Texas.

Proponents of the law, signed by then-governor Jerry Brown, see it as a way to put pressure on the affected states for what the California legislature views as discrimination. Opponents, meanwhile, view the law as meddling in the affairs of other states. 

Regardless of the ban, California state athletics programs have found ways to fund their travel without tapping state funds. For example, the Times reports that Cal State Long Beach turned to a company staging a men’s basketball tournament in Mississippi to fund travel and hotel costs associated with attendance. Athletic director Andy Fee told the Times that the school’s track athletes turned to private donations in order to participate in the NCAA Track and Field National Championships this year, which were held in Texas.

“It’s extra work,” Fee told the Times. “We’ve been lucky that we do have folks who understand the need to fundraise private dollars.” 

Despite the workarounds, though, schools in the state have “faced challenges” according to UC spokesperson Sarah McBride, who said that the restrictions, in addition to creating a barrier to travel for athletics, also inhibit areas such as academic research and student recruitment.

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