HOUSTON — For the second straight year, NCAA president Mark Emmert faced questions at his Final Four news conference about a state's religious exemption law that critics say allows discrimination against gays, lesbians and others.
And for the second straight year, Emmert said the association is prepared to stop doing business in that state and others that create what it considers unwelcoming environments for student-athletes, coaches and fans.
Last year, Indiana was the target of Emmert's remarks. This year it was North Carolina. With several states working on similar proposals, the NCAA has bound itself to a stance and an issue that shows no signs of going away. That could even lead more to a more proactive approach in the future by the NCAA to stop these laws from being passed.
"We're trying very hard to be situation-specific, to represent the views and values of intercollegiate athletics and higher education aggressively and to make people understand that we think some of these laws are movements in a direction that are not supportive of what we stand for and make it very, very hard, if not impossible, for us to operate in those states or those municipalities," Emmert said Thursday.
Last year during the week leading up to the Final Four in Indianapolis, Emmert and the NCAA were pulled into a contentious debate about an Indiana law that critics feared would lead to discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
North Carolina is now receiving attention for a law that has drawn many of the same criticisms.
The law approved March 23 by the North Carolina legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory was a response to an impending ordinance in Charlotte that in part would have allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.
More than 100 company executives have signed a letter delivered to McCrory calling the law discriminatory and demanding it be repealed. Emmert said he has spoken with McCrory.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he was hesitant to speak in detail about the law because he did not know enough about it, but he hoped it would not put the state in a "bad light."
"I think the University of North Carolina and Roy Williams and our basketball program is about diversity, and always will be," Williams said. "I hope that we always include everybody involved."
OOPS: The NCAA acknowledged it had mistakenly sent a text message to the staff at South Carolina, saying the Gamecocks made the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks were one of the last four teams left out. NCAA vice president Dan Gavitt took responsibility and apologized.
AROUND THE NATION: Arkansas-Little Rock promoted assistant Wes Flanigan to coach. Chris Beard left to coach UNLV. … Purdue junior Kendall Stephens, son of former Boilermakers star Everette Stephens, will consider transferring. … Iowa freshman guard Andrew Fleming was released from his scholarship so he can transfer. … James Madison hired former player and assistant Louis Rowe as coach. Rowe transferred from Florida to James Madison for his final two seasons.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Reserve Jatarie White, a McDonald's All-American who was part of the Gamecocks' touted 2014 recruiting class, will transfer.
TENNESSEE tech: Vanderbilt assistant Kim Rosamond was named coach.
WISCONSIN: George Washington's Jonathan Tsipis was named coach.