SUNY Geneseo Swimming and Diving has found itself in the eye of a storm. In 2016 New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 155, prohibiting publicly-funded travel to the state of North Carolina in response to that state’s passing of its HB2 law, a piece of legislation seen as discriminatory by the state of New York. EO 155 stipulated:
- All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions to review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina so long as there is law in effect there that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT citizens; and
- To bar any such publicly funded or publicly sponsored travel to such location, unless such travel is necessary for the enforcement of New York State law, to meet prior contractual obligations, or for the protection of public health, welfare, and safety.
New York State’s ban on publicly funded travel shall take effect immediately and shall continue until such law is repealed.
In practical terms, this meant that the SUNY Geneseo athletes would not be allowed to fly in and out of North Carolina, nor stay in hotels in Greensboro, when they compete at 2019 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships from March 20th-24th at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. As SwimSwam’s Torrey Hart reported last week, several SUNY Geneseo alumni set up a crowdfunding site to raise private funds so that the team could stay in Greensboro and not commute from Virginia.
However, Gov. Cuomo’s office today issued a statement saying the athletes could not use private funds to stay in North Carolina while representing the state of New York. In a statement to News10NBC, the governor’s Senior Advisor Rich Azzopardi said, “The team is traveling to North Carolina and competing in the event, but not staying there. The limited exception is that the team gets to travel there, but not stay in North Carolina and stay in a bordering state instead. The issue is not just tax dollars, but the travel itself. Under the executive order, if you are traveling under the banner of state travel in your state capacity you would ordinarily be banned from traveling there even if there is outside funding, but we are allowing the travel there in this instance to honor their commitment to the NCAA to participate in championships.”
Donors to the GoFundMe page request a refund. Any remaining funds will be donated to the SUNY Geneseo Swimming and Diving program.