NCAA, Big 12 worried about ‘religious freedom’ bill

The NCAA and the Big 12 Conference are signaling concern about a proposed “religious freedom” amendment to Missouri’s Constitution, according to Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte.

With the Big 12 Conference set to hold the first and second round games of its men’s basketball tournament at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis starting Thursday, NCAA spokeswoman Gail Dent said the association is still reviewing the proposed amendment.

The bill, approved in the Senate last week after a 39-hour filibuster, would give legal protections to opponents of same-sex marriage and would shield religious groups and businesses from having to facilitate same-sex marriage ceremonies. The NCAA’s reaction to the legislation is seen as important because the sanctioning body could use it in a factor in whether it holds future tournaments in Missouri.

Schulte noted that if the legislation is passed, the Big 12 could also pull out of future events in the state. “There’s no reason why…the Big 12 couldn’t come to us and say, ‘We no longer think you’re a welcoming environment. We’re going to pull it and go to Oklahoma City or Dallas,'” he said.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s office said Monday it doesn’t appear as if the NCAA has contacted his office to express its concern about the measure.

Read more: Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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