Fired USA Today columnist called for NCAA to ban Christian universities because of their beliefs
A USA Today columnist called for the NCAA to ban Christian universities from the sports league, citing their religious convictions.
The columnist, who has since been fired for a separate incident, branded such schools as transphobic, homophobic, and sexist.
A USA Today columnist claimed during the March Madness basketball tournament that Oral Roberts University's upset over Ohio State University and the University of Florida "isn't the feel good March Madness story we need," citing the Oklahoma college's Christian origins.
In a March 23 column, USA Today columnist Hemal Jhaveri condemned the college for its code of student conduct and suggested that its major upset against other top-tier colleges should not be celebrated.
As an evangelical college, Oral Roberts requires all its students to uphold a pledge they take which includes to not use drugs, drink alcohol, have sexual relations outside of marriage or perform any homosexual acts.
Jhaveri argues that due to these protocols, the NCAA should condemn the school.
“That Oral Roberts wants to keep its students tied to toxic notions of fundamentalism that fetishize chastity, abstinence and absurd hemlines is a larger cultural issue that can be debated. What is not up for debate however is their anti-LGBTQ+ stance, which is nothing short of discriminatory and should expressly be condemned by the NCAA," she wrote.
Jhaveri added that Oral Roberts deserved no spot in the tournament.
“However accomplished its young student athletes are, the school is a hotbed of institutional transphobia, homophobia with regressive, sexist policies. There is no way to separate their men’s basketball team from the dangers of their religious dogma, no matter how many top seeds they defeat," Jhaveri wrote.
She further called for any religious school that upholds similar policies to be punished: “The fact is, any and all anti-LGBTQ+ language in any school’s polices should ban them from NCAA competition.”
According to Travis Barham, senior counsel and deputy director of the Center of Academic Freedom at Alliance Defending Freedom, “The NCAA includes schools with a variety of viewpoints, and that diversity is a good thing. A private school’s religious views should not matter to the NCAA—on the basketball court or anywhere else. Holding a religious belief—whether Christian or otherwise—shouldn’t disqualify a team from an athletic tournament.”
This op-ed comes at a time when politics continues to bleed into sporting events.
Many private institutions are facing public pressure over their religious points of view.
Oral Roberts University told Campus Reform in response to the op-ed.
“[ORU President] Dr. [William] Wilson has appeared on a number of interviews and addressed this. You can find his comments in several venues. The lady was dismissed from her job (unrelated to ORU), there is no story.”
The university was referring to the fact that just days after the opinion editorial was published, Jhaveri was fired from USA Today over a tweet she sent in the aftermath of the Boulder, Colorado shooting.
"It's always an angry [W]hite man. always. Extremely tired of people's lives depending on whether a [W]hite man with an AR-15 is having a good day or not," she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
The alleged Boulder gunman, however, is not White.
Jhaveri did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
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