A three-year-old executive order preventing State University of New York athletes from staying in North Carolina for the NCAA Division III swimming and diving championships should be rescinded, state lawmakers said Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the order in response to a North Carolina law that critics said discriminated against transgender people. One of the law's provisions, which was repealed, required individuals to use bathrooms associated with the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Cuomo's order bans publicly funded travel to North Carolina unless it's necessary "for the enforcement of New York state law, to meet prior contractual obligations, or for the protection of public health, welfare and safety."
The order is affecting lodging plans for 13 divers and swimmers from SUNY schools in Brockport, Cortland and Geneseo who qualified for the NCAA Division III championships. With the meet being held in Greensboro, North Carolina, the athletes plan to stay at a hotel more than 100 miles away in Roanoke, Virginia.
State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a Republican who represents Geneseo, believes it's unfair for the state to force the student-athletes to stay at a hotel in Virginia so they can compete at the Division III championships in neighboring North Carolina.
"It puts them at an incredible competitive disadvantage," Gallivan said at a press conference in Albany Thursday.
State Sen. Jim Seward agreed. Seward, R-Milford, revealed that he had a conversation with Brian Tobin, SUNY Cortland's swim coach. One of Tobin's athletes, Kelly Davey, qualified for the Division III championships with a school-record time in the 50-yard freestyle.
Tobin's concern, Seward said, is the longer travel time required between the hotel in Roanoke and the site of the meet in Greensboro could have a negative impact on Davey and the other SUNY athletes.
Seward urged Cuomo to rescind the travel ban. However, it's unlikely the governor will reverse his position.
"In New York, we do not support blatant discrimination, bigotry and bias," said Rich Azzopardi, senior adviser to Cuomo. "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."
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, lauded Cuomo for reiterating his opposition to North Carolina's law.
"North Carolina's bathroom bill is as offensive and discriminatory now as it was in 2016," Hoylman tweeted Thursday. "Grateful to (Cumo) for standing up for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, and not compromising on our state's core values."
It's not the first time Cuomo's executive order has affected a SUNY team's travel plans. In 2016, the University at Albany's men's basketball team scheduled a game against Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. With the travel ban in place, the game was removed from Albany's schedule.