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California ignores travel ban to anti-LGBT states so UCLA can play in the Sweet 16

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California is funding part of the team’s trip to Tennessee.

Kent State v UCLA Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian has confirmed that UCLA is funding part of the cost for the basketball team’s trip to Tennessee. Like a shell-game, they claimed that it isn’t state funds that are going to this trip — those funds are used for other things, like paying the salaries of people going on the trip and supporting the trip. Nazarian’s spokesperson said these funds are coming from ticket sales and other sources.

It’s like a shell game. Just move funds around to limit exposure and liability. The funds that are going to pay for this trip could have gone to lessen the burden on the state. Instead, they are going toward an illegal trip to Tennessee.

Politics and bureaucracy at their worst.

PREVIOUSLY: Earlier this year the State of California announced it would be banning all state-funded or state-sponsored travel to four specific states with anti-LGBT laws: North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas and... Tennessee.

Now everyone is hoping you forget all of that this week as California pays for the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to travel to Tennessee to play in the men’s Sweet Sixteen.

Assembly Bill 1887 makes it pretty clear the travel is prohibited:

“The travel prohibition applies to state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University.”

According to the Sacramento Bee, there’s a loophole in the law that allows schools to fulfill athletic obligations it made before Jan. 1, 2017. Of course, the school didn’t make the commitment to compete in Tennessee until a couple weeks ago when it accepted the invitation to play in the NCAA tournament, and the team didn’t earn the right to travel to Tennessee until this past weekend.

UCLA plays against the Kentucky Wildcats on Friday. UCLA beat Kentucky earlier this year, 97-92.

The UCLA athletic department has said it “will not deny our student-athletes the right to participate in postseason play.” And I get the school’s position.

But can you imagine the repercussions if the State of California announced that the UCLA men’s basketball team would not be traveling to Tennessee to play in its Sweet Sixteen game? It would send a shot across the bow that would be heard for years.

Instead, the state is content to make pronouncements with no teeth. When it’s convenient to avoid Tennessee, North Carolina and other anti-LGBT states, they’ll do it. But don’t expect anyone in Sacramento enforce the travel ban when it would have the most effect.