Until last week, security questions surrounding the National Collegiate Athletics Association's (NCAA) upcoming Final Four basketball tournament fell along the same lines as any public event attended in a high-profile venue.
But then on March 26, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into state law and suddenly greater public, media and security scrutiny swirls around one of the nation's biggest sporting contests. Regardless of the bill's intent, criticism from the public and the business community has been swift and intense. Last Thursday afternoon, NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement that read in part, "We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees." With several LGBT rights groups planning protests at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the NCAA is based, the potential for civil unrest is running high.
While there are no indications that the NCAA plans to relocate the Final Four before the coming weekend games, immediate security needs are being evaluated. Lucas Oil Stadium's Executive Director Barney Levengoods told the media, "It takes total involvement from the entire community that's hosting the event…We have meetings with state and local officials and law enforcement in preparation."
With the event scheduled to return to Indianapolis in 2021, the NCAA is suggesting it may seek alternatives. In the same statement, Emmert said, "'Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well."
Public safety concerns for businesses of all varieties will continue to be a hot button topic in 2015. HUB's Risk Team has prepared a number of resources designed to help you and your business anticipate, prepare for and recover from a variety of security threats.