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LGBTQ connections to every team in the women’s NCAA basketball tournament

Schools like Stanford, Texas and NC State, among others, have a history of out athletes, coaches and staff.

Utah v Stanford
Stanford is looking to repeat as national champions while coach Tara VanDerveer aims to become just the third head coach to win at least four national titles in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.
Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

As the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament tips off, there are LGBTQ connections to every single one of the schools in the tournament.

Many of them have years-long histories elevating LGBTQ people in the athletics department, including the Texas Longhorns, UNC Tar Heels and NC State Wolfpack.

The Stanford Cardinal are another, and they’re back in top form, looking to be the first team to repeat as national champions since the UConn Huskies had a fourpeat from 2013 to 2016.

Looking for an LGBTQ connection to the school you’re most rooting for? Here’s some of what we have. And warning: It’s not all great.

Spokane Region

1) Stanford Cardinal
Stanford has had many LGBTQ people in the athletic department come out publicly, including gymnastics coach Cale Robinson, discus thrower Jaimi Salone and administrator Justin Mathis.

2) Texas Longhorns
The University of Texas has a rich history of LGBTQ support, including marching in the Austin Pride Parade, hiring out associate athletic director Drew Martin and supporting out athletes like Kennedy Lohman and Jacob Cornish.

3) LSU Tigers
Women’s head basketball coach Kim Mulkey brought a Hall of Fame record and a history of homophobia to her coaching gig at LSU. Football coach Ed Orgeron was shown the door after he behaved like a homophobic jerk.

4) Maryland Terrapins
Former University of Maryland athletes Pat Griffin, Akil Patterson and Hudson Taylor have all played major roles in advocating for LGBTQ athletes.

5) Virginia Tech Hokies
Taylor Emery was an exceptional out basketball player for the Hokies women’s basketball team.

6) Ohio State Buckeyes
As the Ohio State University athletic director, Gene Smith has spoken about his support for diversity and inclusion, including the LGBTQ community.

7) Utah Utes
After feeling isolated coming out in her Mormon community, Carly Nelson found love and acceptance as the goalie for the University of Utah’s women’s soccer team.

8) Kansas Jayhawks
The Kansas athletics department includes the LGBTQ community in its outreach and resources on diversity and inclusion.

9) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Last year Georgia Tech got a brand new LGBTQ-inspired mural: an entire set of stairs painted in vibrant rainbow colors.

10) Arkansas Razorbacks
KC Cross is opening minds as a queer, nonbinary person working in the University of Arkansas athletics department.

11) Florida State Seminoles
Florida State has had at least a couple LGBTQ athletes come out publicly: ultimate player Lane Forsman and diver Aidan Faminoff.

11) Missouri State Bears
In 2018, Missouri State was the inaugural recipient of a grant from Out In Athletics, designed to bring LGBTQ-inclusion programming to the athletic department.

12) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
In 2012, a local reporter, Seth Soffian, wrote a fantastic three-part look at homophobia in women’s sports, focusing on FGCU.

13) Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens
In 2018, two lesbian volleyball coaches won a discrimination lawsuit against the University of Delaware. The women said they were fired for their age and sexual orientation.

14) Jackson State Tigers
Spectrum is this HBCU’s GSA, standing for gender-sexuality alliance.

15) Fairfield Stags
Last year students urged Fairfield University to support the LGBTQ community after the Catholic Church chose to not recognize same-sex relationships.

16) Montana State Bobcats
Former Montana State football player Brandon Davis came out publicly as gay in 2016.

Greensboro Region

1) South Carolina Gamecocks
In 2016, Tyson Lusk, the director of basketball operations for the South Carolina baseball team, came out publicly after finding support at the school.

2) Iowa Hawkeyes
Antonio Woodard was a successful runner for the Iowa men’s track and field team while also being out as bisexual, earning multiple All-American honors.

3) Iowa State Cyclones
National champion Tina Hillman was possibly the first publicly out NCAA athlete to come out publicly as pansexual. The Cyclones also had a former football player — Landon Streit — come out.

4) Arizona Wildcats
In 2015, the Arizona Wildcats posted a pro-equality banner in the athletics department with the signatures of 150 athletes.

5) UNC Tar heels
For decades the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had an out gay administrator in Dave Lohse. He retired in 2020 but is still involved with the school.

6) Georgia Bulldogs
Joey Fisher, a hockey goalie with the Georgia men’s hockey team, was one of the first gay athletes in college sports to come out publicly on Outsports.

7) Colorado Buffaloes
Last year Colorado became the first university to make a full athlete scholarship based on an athlete being LGBTQ or supporting the LGBTQ community.

8) Miami Hurricanes
When former football player TJ Callan came out publicly in 2020, he talked about his struggles and triumphs. The Miami athletic department stayed silent, raising questions about their support for the LGBTQ community.

9) South Florida Bulls
Earlier this year, University of South Florida students walked out over the passing of the Parental Rights In Education bill, saying it’s anti-LGBTQ.

10) Creighton Bluejays
In 2021, Creighton students elected their first out gay president of the student body, sophomore Francisco Pastor-Rivera.

11) Dayton Flyers
In 2019, when a Pride flag on campus was torn down and thrown in the trash, the LGBTQ community on campus responded.

11) DePaul Blue Demons
The student body president at DePaul in 2011 was a gay athlete, hockey player Anthony Alfano.

12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Stephen F. Austin has an LGBTQ Equality Caucus for those looking to advance LGBTQ equality.

13) UNLV Rebels
UNLV has numerous LGBTQ resources on campus.

14) UT-Arlington Mavericks
Last fall, UT-Arlington reportedly introduced an LGBTQ residential learning community, where members of the community and others can live together.

15) Illinois State Redbirds
Colton Underwood, the reality TV personality and former NFL prospect, was a standout on the Illinois State football team.

16) Incarnate Word Cardinals
University of the Incarnate Word women’s volleyball assistant coach Shawn McLaughlin came out after being discouraged from doing so early in his career.

16) Howard Bison
There are various organizations and resources for LGBTQ students and faculty at Howard University.

Wichita Region

1) Louisville Cardinals
Track and field star Emmonnie Henderson was out as she set a shot put school record and dominated competition.

2) Baylor Bears
Various athletes have opened up about being LGBTQ and playing for former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, including WNBA superstar Brittney Griner and Emily Nkosi.

3) Michigan Wolverines
Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh is a supportive father of his gay son, with Jim Jr. talking about the love his father has shown him as a youth and since he came out.

4) Tennessee Volunteers
When the University of Tennessee defunded the LGBTQ Pride Center at the school, alumni stepped up to raise funds to keep the center open.

5) Oregon Ducks
In 2015, Ducks head football coach Mark Helfrich said he didn’t think the team “would even bat an eye” if a gay player on the team came out.

6) BYU Cougars
Despite school policies that are explicitly anti-LGBTQ, BYU runner Emma Gee came out publicly on Outsports in 2019.

7) Ole Miss Rebels
In 2013, Mississippi football players were asked to apologize after they allegedly heckled the actors in a play about Matthew Shepard.

8) Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Nebraska football team has seen a player come out — Eric Lueshen, who has become an LGBTQ sports advocate — and avowed anti-gay coach Ron Brown hired by the team.

9) Gonzaga Bulldogs
When Gonzaga in 2020 announced the opening of the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic, run by the university’s School of Law and Center for Civil and Human Rights, a local Catholic Bishop objected.

10) South Dakota Coyotes
The University of South Dakota has had at least two gay athletes on the swim team come out: Josh Sorbe and Bryce Fehringer.

11) Villanova Wildcats
Former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan was one of the first former Division I college basketball players to come out as gay, ultimately inducted into the Delaware Basketball Hall of Fame.

12) Belmont Bruins
When women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe told school administrators at Belmont she and her wife were having a baby, the school fired her.

13) Buffalo Bulls
In 2015, the University of Buffalo athletic department created a You Can Play video to demonstrate an acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

14) American Eagles
American University has specific policies and procedures to ensure LGBTQ students feel comfortable and welcome in their housing.

15) Hawaii Rainbow Wahine
The University of Hawaii dropped the “Rainbow” from its nickname in 2000, conceding that it was because it seemed too gay. In 2013, they brought the Rainbow back with the men called the “Rainbow Warriors.”

16) Albany Great Danes
In 2016, the University of Albany men’s basketball team dropped out of a game with Duke due to New York’s response to a North Carolina law forbidding trans women from using a women’s bathroom.

Bridgeport Region

1) NC State Wolfpack
NC State has featured many out LGBTQ athletes, including cheerleader Harrison Wilkerson, runner Sarah LaTour, and a number of athletes on the swimming and diving team.

2) UConn Huskies
The famed UConn women’s basketball team in 2013 worked with Nevin Caple to publicly roll out the red carpet for LGBTQ women to compete on the team.

3) Indiana Hoosiers
As early as 2010, the Indiana athletic department embraced the LGBTQ community, that year appearing in the local Pride Parade.

4) Oklahoma Sooners
Pole vaulter Tanner Williams was married to his husband while competing for the University of Oklahoma.

5) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
When gay Notre Dame tennis player Matt Dooley came out in 2014, he broke a barrier for the Fighting Irish that other LGBTQ athletes have walked through.

6) Kentucky Wildcats
Former Kentucky punter Landon Foster came out publicly after leaving the Wildcats, one of a handful of former NCAA Division I football players to come out.

7) Central Florida Knights
The University of Central Florida has a Pride Faculty Association for the school’s faculty and staff.

8) Washington State Cougars
Rower Megan Duthart founded Washington State’s Cougar Pride Student-Athlete Alliance.

9) Kansas State Wildcats
Scott Frantz came out publicly as gay on the Kansas State football team, then played three seasons as an out player.

10) Florida Gators
In one of the first legal cases of its kind, in 2003 Florida softball player Andrea Zimbardi said she was released from the team for being gay. The school has had other LGBTQ athletes since then who have found acceptance, including gymnast Savannah Schoenherr.

11) Princeton Tigers
Mason Darrow was the first active gay player in Division I college football to come out publicly, sharing his story with Outsports in 2015.

12) Massachusetts Minutemen
Derrick Gordon was the first gay player to ever come out publicly while still competing on a Division I men’s college basketball team, doing so in 2014.

13) IUPUI Jaguars
Out bi runner Jennifer Emery was a leader on campus while competing on the track team at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

14) Charlotte Forty Niners
In 2017, UNC-Charlotte developed an LGBTQ Alumni Association in hopes of building acceptance and awarding scholarships.

15) Mercer Bears
Bryson Jones was blackmailed for being gay by a teammate while playing soccer for Mercer. He went on to work for the Big Ten.

16) Mount Saint Mary’s
Chase Boyle came out at this Catholic school while competing on the men’s track and field team.

16) Longwood Lancers
In 2014, Outsports had fun with the Longwood name being a clear fit for an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt. In 2017, the school hosted a conversation about the LGBTQ community at the school in Virginia.