Duke loses Albany as opponent because of ban on travel to North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke has an opening on its men's basketball schedule because of the North Carolina law that impacts lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Blue Devils were supposed to host Albany on Nov. 12 as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, but there is no opponent listed on that day in Duke's schedule that was released Wednesday.

Holly Liapis, spokeswoman for the State University of New York system that includes Albany, said that game won't be played because of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order banning publicly funded, nonessential travel to North Carolina.

Cuomo's order is in response to a North Carolina law that opponents say can allow discrimination against LGBT people.

Liapis said SUNY and its campuses continue to support Gov. Cuomo "on taking this stand."

"It's most unfortunate. As an institution, if not personally, we have gone on the record indicating that our state position on this [HB2] is very troubling, if not embarrassing," Duke athletic director Kevin White told ESPN on Thursday.

Albany men's basketball coach Will Brown told ESPN on Thursday, "At this point in time I cannot comment on the matter other than we are looking forward to playing our new opening night opponent, Penn State."

In a statement, North Carolina Gov.Pat McCrory called Cuomo's executive order "ridiculous" and wants the game to be played.

"While Governor Cuomo has initiated a ridiculous boycott of our state, thousands of his citizens continue to move out of New York and now call North Carolina home," he said. "Millions of dollars of misleading, taxpayer-subsidized commercials nor an executive order will not stop this exodus. Governor Cuomo, our North Carolina borders are open and our citizens are hospitable. Play ball!"

With Albany out, Duke released a schedule that had the school playing Marist on Nov. 12. An amended version issued roughly an hour later had a vacancy for that day and indicated that the Basketball Hall of Fame had notified Duke that its opponent has not yet been confirmed.

Marist is still Duke's likely opponent for the Nov. 12 game. It is a private institution and wouldn't be affected by Gov. Cuomo's decision. Neither would Syracuse, a private school in New York that competes against Duke in the ACC.

Duke begins the season with two on-campus games in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off: the opener against Grand Canyon on Nov. 11 and the still-undetermined game the next day.

Duke spokesman Cory Walton said tournament organizers are responsible for filling that opening. In addition to Duke, Marist, Grand Canyon and Albany, the remaining four schools in the tournament field are Cincinnati, Penn State, Rhode Island and Brown.

Greg Procino, vice president of basketball operations for the Hall of Fame, said in a statement that his group is working with the other schools to reschedule the on-campus games and expects to have that completed in the next week.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island are the host schools for the on-campus rounds and are each contracted to have two home games, Procino said.

"The tournament schedule had been in place for about a year, so this was an unexpected turn of events," Procino said.

The North Carolina law signed earlier this year by Gov. Pat McCrory -- known as House Bill 2 or HB2-- requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide anti-discrimination protections.

It came in response to Charlotte leaders' approval of a measure that allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity. Supporters have defended the law as a commonsense measure that keeps men from using women's restrooms.

It has led to a public and business backlash, with the NBA still weighing whether to move its All-Star Gamefrom Charlotte. The NCAA this spring announced a policy to require sites hosting or bidding on both its predetermined and merit-based events to show how they will provide an environment that is "safe, healthy and free from discrimination."

Information from ESPN's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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