In October, a piece of legislation called the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act went into effect in Mississippi, officially allowing businesses in the state to deny services to gay couples. The bill has produced severe backlash and inspired travel bans in many state, including New York, where governor Andrew Cuomo has prohibited “non-essential” state travel to Mississippi.
As it turns out, “non-essential” includes college baseball. The Sun Herald, a newspaper in Biloxi, Mississippi, reported this week that Stony Brook, part of the SUNY system, has canceled a three-game series with Southern Mississippi due to New York’s restrictions on travel.
A Stony Brook spokesman told the Sun Herald that the school’s coach and athletic director did not realize when they scheduled the games that New York had initiated a travel ban to Mississippi. The school reportedly looked into traveling to Louisiana and crossing the border into Mississippi each of the three days, but opted against it.
— Stony Brook Baseball (@StonyBrookBASE) January 3, 2018
As you might expect, Southern Mississippi was not thrilled that its opponent had canceled only about seven weeks before the series, which was scheduled for February 23-25.
“I just hate losing the three home games,” USM head coach Scott Berry said. “I’m sure it’s going to cost us for sure. That’s three gates and everything that goes into a game day in terms of revenue.”
Instead of hosting Stony Brook, Southern Mississippi will instead travel to Texas for the Stephen F. Austin Tournament, per the Sun Herald.
It’s easy to feel bad for both baseball programs for losing these games, but given that inconveniencing Mississippi is the entire point of New York’s travel bans, this situation unfolded exactly as it was supposed to.