Athlete Compensation

In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice for the men’s NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh.

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The NCAA is planning on discussing how House Bill 500 will impact Boise's chances of hosting 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament games during its meeting in August, something it said it had already planned to do before receiving three letters from athletes and advocacy groups requesting action.

On Wednesday more than 400 athletes and 60 advocacy groups wrote letters to the NCAA requesting that the organizing not sponsor any events in Idaho while the law, which bans transgender girls and women from playing on school-sponsored sports teams that match with their gender identity, was still on the books.

A ban would include first and second round games at the men's basketball tournament, which Boise State is scheduled to host March 18-20, 2021 at Extra Mile Arena. By Thursday afternoon, the list of athletes who had signed it had risen to over 500.

The NCAA, which originally denounced the bill after it was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on March 30, responded Thursday afternoon, repeating its position on the the bill.

“As we have previously stated, Idaho’s House Bill 500 and resulting law is harmful to transgender student-athletes and conflicts with the NCAA’s core values of inclusivity, respect and the equitable treatment of all individuals,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Further, Board of Governors policy requires host sites to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event. As such, the NCAA Board of Governors was scheduled to discuss the legislation and its implications to student-athletes at its August meeting.

"NCAA championships are open to everyone, and the Association is committed to assuring that its events are safe and healthy for all who attend. It is our clear expectation that all NCAA student-athletes will be welcomed, treated with respect, and have nondiscriminatory participation wherever they compete.”

ExtraMile Arena has hosted the tournament nine previous times, the most recent being in 2018.

The NCAA has previously moved tournaments from their original locations due to local laws, moving a first and second round site in 2017 from Greensboro, North Carolina to Greenville, South Carolina due to North Carolina's House Bill 2, which banned people from using public bathrooms that didn't correspond to the gender they were born as. A partial repeal of the law removed the bathroom regulations and Charlotte was able to host 2018 first and second round games.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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