Derrick Marks

Boise State’s Derrick Marks (2) shoots during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State in Boise, Idaho, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

To review calls to remove basketball tournament from Boise

The National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Governors in its Tuesday meeting is poised to discuss whether the 2021 men’s basketball tournament will come to Boise as scheduled.

After Idaho passed a law this year barring transgender girls and women from playing on female high school and college sports teams, more than 500 athletes and 60 advocacy groups wrote letters to the NCAA requesting that the organization not sponsor any events in Idaho while House Bill 500 was still on the books.

A ban would include first- and second-round games at the men’s basketball tournament, which Boise State University is scheduled to host March 18-20 at ExtraMile Arena.

The NCAA has stated opposition to this law, saying it is “harmful to transgender student-athletes and conflicts with the NCAA’s core values of inclusivity, respect and the equitable treatment of all individuals.”

Last month, the organization said the board would discuss Idaho’s law at the August meeting. The board’s agenda for Tuesday includes an “update on NCAA Transgender Student-Athlete Participation Policy review and federal state legislative activity.”

State Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, worked with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based socially conservative group, to craft the bill.

On Wednesday, the alliance issued a press release saying female Olympians, Title IX pioneers, and more than 300 collegiate and professional athletes had submitted a letter to the NCAA board, urging them to reject calls to remove the tournament from Boise.

“Fairness for female athletes should not be a political or partisan issue,” the letter states. “…We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to compete, but true athletic parity for women demands that women’s sports be protected for biological females.”

Signers of the letter include cyclist Jennifer Wagner-Assali, world-champion track athlete Cynthia Monteleone, and Title IX pioneer and marathon swimmer Sandra Bucha-Kerscher, according to the press release.

Boise State’s ExtraMile Arena, formerly the Taco Bell Arena, has hosted the NCAA basketball tournament nine times, most recently in 2018.

The NCAA has previously moved tournaments from their original locations due to local laws, moving a first- and second-round site in 2017 from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Greenville, South Carolina, due to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which banned people from using public bathrooms that didn’t correspond to their birth gender. A partial repeal of the law removed the bathroom regulations, and Charlotte was able to host 2018 first and second round games.

The board will meet over Zoom from 12:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Reporter John Wustrow contributed.