USC's Pat Haden won't attend meeting in Indiana because of new law

USC's Pat Haden won't attend meeting in Indiana because of new law
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden will skip the College Football Playoff meeting in Indianapolis because of the new Indiana law that has been called anti-gay. USC football Coach Steve Sarkisian and players support Haden's decision. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The College Football Playoff selection committee is scheduled to meet this week in Indianapolis.

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden will not be there.

Haden won't attend because of a new Indiana law that has been called anti-gay.

"I am the proud father of a gay son. In his honor, I will not be attending the CFP committee meeting in Indy this week. #EmbraceDiversity," Haden wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter.


Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics fear will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians. Pence on Tuesday called for a legislative fix to clarify that the law does not permit discrimination.

Haden is beginning his second year as a member of the CFP selection committee, which chooses teams to participate in the playoff semifinals.

This week's meeting was scheduled to coincide with the NCAA men's basketball Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Haden declined to comment beyond what he posted to Twitter.

Linebacker Scott Felix and offensive lineman Zach Banner expressed support of Haden on Twitter.

"For Mr. Haden to be brave enough to step up and say that, I wanted to support him," Banner said after practice at the Coliseum. "I wanted him to know, a father figure like Mr. Haden, that I've got his back."

Coach Steve Sarkisian said the diversity of USC and Los Angeles provided a unique forum.

"If we can embrace that diversity and be able to voice our opinion with the stage that we have, we should," Sarkisian said, "and I support Pat every step of the way."

Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP, said he understood and respected Haden's position.

"Everyone has the right to express their personal opinions and Pat, to his credit, has exercised his," Hancock said in an email. "As a father and also as a human being, I respect him for that.

"I will exercise my right too: I think they need to fix this. Having said that, our group's focus is on sports. Other people more knowledgeable than I am are in a better position to address this matter."

Dancing with the stars

Sarkisian said he decided to "break up the monotony" of practice and have some fun by staging a brief dance competition.

Each position group selected a participant.

"Part of it was to say, 'Hey we can have our fun and then we can refocus and get right back into practice,' " Sarkisian said, adding, "We're going to have moments in games where we're going to make a great play and we're going to want to celebrate and then we need to refocus for the very next snap and be locked in."

Freshman offensive lineman Roy Hemsley, who is listed at 6 feet 6 and 310 pounds, stood out, Sarkisian said.

"A man that size that can dance like that, that was pretty impressive," Sarkisian said.

Quick hit

The Trojans have five workouts remaining, including the April 11 spring game at the Coliseum.

Times staff writer Chris Dufresne contributed to this report.