Because of New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state ban on travel to North Carolina in protest of its controversial transgender bathroom policy, swimmers and divers from the State University of New York at Geneseo can't stay in Greensboro for the NCAA Division III championships later this month — and instead plan to stay across the state line in Virginia, an hour away from the tournament site, the Buffalo News said.
The left-wing governor — who in January signed into law a policy allowing abortion in some cases right up to the day of birth — issued a 2016 executive order banning state-related travel to North Carolina in response to its bill mandating public restroom use corresponding to users' birth sex.
Ten members of Geneseo's swimming and diving team — as well as two from SUNY Brockport and one from SUNY Cortland — qualified for the North Carolina tournament to be held March 20-23, the Buffalo News said. But the ban means they can't fly into North Carolina or stay there overnight, the Democrat & Chronicle said.
The schools originally were told they couldn't compete at all before a minor exception was made, New York Republican state Sen. Patrick Gallivan told the Democrat & Chronicle.
"It is unfair to make a political statement on the backs and lives of these student-athletes who have worked so hard to reach this level of competition," Gallivan added. "We should be celebrating their achievements, not punishing them for something they have no control over." He also called on Cuomo to end his travel ban.
While North Carolina rescinded the transgender bathroom bill in 2017, Cuomo's travel ban still stands because North Carolina's replacement bill prevents local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020, the Democrat & Chronicle said.
"In New York, we do not support blatant discrimination, bigotry, and bias," a top Cuomo aide told the Buffalo News. "Standing up for equality is not a fad, and as long as this anti-LGBTQ law remains in effect, New York tax dollars are not going to be spent there."
Gallivan and a coach told the Buffalo News that the NCAA pays for tournament-related airfare, hotels, and meals — but Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said the issue "is not just tax dollars but the travel itself," the Democrat & Chronicle said.
Fundraiser to pay for athletes to stay in NC apparently moot
Clint Sugnet — a Geneseo graduate and former member of the swimming and diving team — started a GoFundMe campaign so the team could stay "within a reasonable distance" of the tournament site in Greensboro, the Democrat & Chronicle said.
While nearly $7,000 has been raised as of Monday, it looks like it will be of no use.
"The college couldn't take that money or be involved in it all," Gail Glover, chief communications and marketing officer for SUNY Geneseo, told the paper, adding that the team would fly into Roanoke, Virginia.