USC athletic director Pat Haden announced Tuesday that he will not attend a College Football Playoff meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, this week in protest of the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law.
Haden, whose son is gay, announced the news on Twitter:
Haden's son, Ryan, told Outsports that he was "incredibly proud" of his dad's decision to not attend the meeting.
"I have so much respect and love for my dad and to see him make a public statement like this not just for me, but for everyone out there against whom discrimination might be applied, speaks volumes," he said.
The announcement comes the same day that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) called for an alteration of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would disallow any use of the law to discriminate. Critics claim that while the law as currently written does not explicitly discriminate against the LGBT community, it could be used as a defense if a business was sued for LGBT discrimination.
Since it was signed into law last week, organizations and personalities including the NCAA, the NBA, NASCAR, Charles Barkley and, of course, Keith Olbermann have spoken out against the law -- Barkley and Olbermann even called for the NCAA to remove the Final Four from the state until the law is altered or abolished.
In a blog post last March on the USC website, Haden opened up about the importance of LGBT acceptance to both the USC community and him personally:
This issue is near and dear to my heart as I have a gay son. I am so proud of him and love him to death. At USC, we are all about inclusion. We have many gay athletes here, and we welcome and appreciate them. We promote diversity not just in terms of sexual orientation and ethnicity, but different points of view. We are producing a video featuring our student-athletes expressing that we want to live by our Trojan Family Code, which is centered around treating people with respect despite any differences and, even more, appreciating that diversity.