The California state legislature has thrown a curveball to college athletic departments around the state, including that of Cal State Bakersfield.
On Jan. 1, regulations in Assembly Bill 1887 went into effect that significantly curtailed state-sponsored travel to states with laws considered discriminatory by the California legislature.
Initially, the states were Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee, but the list was later expanded to include Alabama, South Dakota, Texas and Kentucky. Because the CSU and UC systems are funded by the state, the travel ban includes university athletic departments, which must now use non-appropriated or external monies to fund travel to those eight states. The restriction applies only to travel expenses, and not to expenses like salaries.
As with many laws, however, there is a wide swathe of exceptions, including for contractual obligations pre-dating the ban. This means CSUB can still use state funds to play conference games against schools located in the banned states and for non-conference agreements made before Jan. 1.
Based on these carve-outs, CSUB can continue normally for Western Athletic Conference trips to play Texas-Rio Grande Valley, as well as WAC men’s soccer affiliate members Incarnate Word (Dallas) and Houston Baptist. The Runners’ men’s soccer team will play UTRGV, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist in Texas on Oct. 12, 20 and 22, respectively.
Men’s basketball can still use state funds to travel to its Nov. 19 game at Lamar in Beaumont, Texas, because the game was contracted before Jan. 1. The same is true for women’s basketball games at UTEP and SMU.
Theoretically, the exemptions also permit CSUB to play any WAC members added from any of the eight states in the future.
According to CSUB athletic director Kenneth "Ziggy" Siegfried, the impacts of the new law on the Runners’ athletic department have been minimal thus far. He strongly backed the travel ban in an email to The Californian.
“Our department is committed to an inclusive and diverse environment, and we very much support the California Attorney General in the intent of the travel ban,” Siegfried wrote.
“We will continue to track on any further clarification from our CSU System on this policy, but it is our understanding that we can meet any contractual obligations incurred before January 1, 2017. It is also our understanding that private funds and monies received by a campus auxiliary organization may be utilized, consistent with campus and auxiliary policies.”
The biggest impact of the of the ban might be on CSUB’s future non-conference scheduling, especially for lucrative “guarantee” games in men’s and women’s basketball (the school generates $200,000-$300,000 per year from these games). In the past, Siegfried indicated, CSUB's basketball programs had played away games against opponents within the ban’s geographic scope. That will no longer occur, unless the travel expenses are paid from non-state funds.
Siegfried wrote the school “did not move forward on some negotiations to schedule non-conference games because they were in the states on the travel ban list,” and acknowledged the regulations “limit” the department’s scheduling scope.
But Siegfried’s “hope and expectation is the list will decrease in the coming months.”
“I believe that would also be the goal of the State of California,” he added.