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Some College Football Playoff teams have stronger LGBTQ-inclusion efforts than others

Of the final four teams in college football, one head coach has spoken publicly of inclusion. And one team hasn’t done much.

SEC Championship - Alabama v Georgia
Nick Saban has made it clear his Alabama Crimson Tide team would treat a gay player with ‘dignity and respect.’
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

As the college football playoffs arrive, we took stock of the public efforts of the four football teams fighting for the national championship to build inclusive environments for gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer athletes and coaches.

Each of the teams has some history to hang its hat on, though the case for some is a bit stronger than others.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

In 2014, four Fighting Irish football players appeared in a You Can Play video aimed at supporting inclusion of LGBTQ athletes at Notre Dame. The video also included athletics director Jack Swarbick.

Notre Dame has also had publicly out varsity athletes in other sports.

Clemson Tigers

Just last year, Clemson produced a You Can Play video that included at least one football player who said, “every player is part of the Clemson family.” The video also features athletics director Dan Radakovich.

Also of note, in 2015 Clemson coach Dabo Swinney pulled out of an event affiliated with an anti-LGBTQ lobbying group.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has spoken publicly about his expectation that a gay athlete would be treated well by the people on his team:

I would expect everybody to be very respectful of what is private for most people and treat that person with dignity and respect and respect them for being a good teammate and being a part of our team and doing the things that require them to be a good person on our team

Oklahoma Sooners

While we couldn’t find the Oklahoma football team or its head coach, Lincoln Riley, expressing any form of support for LGBTQ athletes or equal rights, we did find this. Sooners player Eric Striker (who now plays in the CFL) in 2015 expressed how his perspective on gay people shifted toward inclusion:

I had a gay friend in high school named Thaddeus who changed my life. They are human beings. They are people just like us at the end of the day. There’s nothing wrong with them.

Oklahoma has also had a number of Sooner athletes come out publicly.

If you think we missed something from a team, let us know in the comments and we’ll include it.