California has lifted its ban on state-funded travel to 26 states with anti-LGBTQ laws — offering more financial flexibility for UCLA and Cal’s athletic departments just in time for the latest round of conference realignment.
Since the boycott took effect in 2017, the list of problematic states grew from a handful to more than two dozen, forcing public universities in California to find alternative sources of funding for road matchups in Arizona. With UCLA moving to the Big Ten and Cal joining the ACC next year, conference trips would have been a budgetary nightmare at North Carolina, NC State, Florida State, SMU, Ohio State, Iowa, Indiana, and Purdue instead of just Arizona and Arizona State.
States formerly banned by California for government-funded travel:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
California’s restrictions on state-sponsored travel proved to be an ineffective deterrent as more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures around the country this year alone. Instead, California will invest $5 million in a non-partisan advertising campaign dubbed “The Bridge Project,” which will advocate for inclusivity in anti-LGBTQ states.
“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed SB 477 into law on Wednesday.
The boycott also impacted the work of academics researching targeted states
“With nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills having been introduced in legislatures nationwide this year alone, now more than ever I think we need to reach into those communities with messages of support, inclusivity and understanding,” added Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who drafted the legislation.
Even a slight financial break could prove crucial for Cal and UCLA, which are already adding millions of dollars in additional travel costs with cross-country schedules after the Pac-12’s collapse. Plus, Cal accepted a reduced revenue share to earn an ACC invite and UCLA could owe up to $10 million in “Calimony” to its Berkeley foe for tanking the value of the Pac-12’s (now-dead) media rights deal with its departure last summer. The details of the tax that UCLA owes Cal are expected to be discussed during a UC Board of Regents meeting next Thursday.