Understandably, there was a little embarrassment heading into the weekend, even defensiveness.

NCAA president Mark Emmert, the leader of the reform starved governing body of college athletics headquartered in Indianapolis and about to kick off its marquee $1 billion dollar grossing event was forced to address the issue at his annual pre Final Four press conference on Thursday.

“Are we happy that the debate is taking place during Final Four week? Of course not,” Emmert said, speaking from the stadium’s cement understory. “But we hope they can resolve it quickly, not just because of this event, but because it’s an important issue.”

Remarkably, the press conference focused almost exclusively on the religious freedom bill. Would the NCAA not use Indianapolis as a tournament site in future years? Would it move its headquarters? How did civil rights issues coincide with the mission of the NCAA? Nearly forty five minutes of Emmert wading into uncharted waters, and he was doing pretty wholesale chargers jerseys well until this attempt at humor when commenting that Cheap Authentic Washington Redskins Jerseys | NFL Football a large number of young people were employed by the NCAA, some of them possibly gay: “These issues for young people are very, very different than they are for old codgers like me.”

(On Wednesday, the four Final Four coaches, old codgers themselves, issued a vanilla joint statement through the NCAA, a clear attempt to sweep the issue aside and move on to America’s greatest form of sporting escapism.)

The state legislature issued revisions to the law the same day as Emmert’s presser, and Kyle Palazzolo, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal, thought that yes, college basketball had had a direct impact on the revision process. “The timing of the Final Four definitely accelerated the timeline, he said. looked to the NCAA for a response, and because of that the NCAA brought in other business and community leaders who really put pressure on the legislature and the governor.”

It is difficult to recall another domestic sporting event in recent years that has so directly impacted public policy, let alone so quickly. Had there been any team discussion? Any conversation with gay friends back on campus?

Wisconsin senior Frank Kaminsky: “All the team discussed is that we’re inclusive.”

Kentucky’s Willie Cauley Stein, a junior: “We only vaguely talked about it. A lot of our focus has been on our game against Wisconsin.”

Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor: “We discussed it as a team before we came here. We just support what the NCAA is saying and what our university is saying. We don’t believe in any discrimination.”

Who says they needed to take a firmer stand?

“Personally, I think it’s inappropriate to even ask them cheap bears jerseys about it,” Doyel told me. “These kids are here for a once in a life time opportunity, and they’re basketball players. They’re not equipped to talk about (the religious freedom act). Hell, I’m not equipped, and I’m a grown man communicator.”

University of Kentucky’s sports information director Eric Lindsey was eager to agree. “They’re a group of kids who don’t know enough about it,” he told me. “They weren’t told they couldn’t talk about it, but they were told they’re here to play basketball.”

On Friday evening there was a social gathering of the gay sports media coterie at the downtown location of Scotty’s Brewhouse, a statewide chain with ten locations. Owner Scott Wise, a devout born again Christian, had released an impassioned statement urging tolerance for all people regardless of sexual orientation.

There was Zeigler, a debonair 41 year old, in a bright pink sports coat among a thronging crowd of Final Four fans dining on chicken fingers and burgers. The primary advisor to NFL prospect Michael Sam when he came out in February 2014, a carefully orchestrated media event, Zeigler had been going to local businesses dressed “very gay,” and asking if it was okay that he liked men, to see if he’d get denied service. So far, no service denied. One waitress, at Rock Bottom Brewery, told him, “I ashamed of my state.”

The group was excited about the impending arrival of Derrick Gordon, the University of Massachusetts basketball player who came out with Zeigler’s help in April 2014, the first men’s NCAA player to come out and play in a game. Gordon was to be featured on an Outsports panel discussion the next morning, along with retired NBA player Jason Collins. on a Saturday morning. But that morning ahuge crowd had gathered in the carpeted hallway of the Indiana Convention Center. Had so many people shown up despite the challenging hour to discuss issues of sexual orientation in sport thanks to the religious freedom act?

No such progress. “The