Haden won’t go to In­di­ana

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­timesklein Times staff writer Chris Dufresne con­trib­uted to this re­port.

He’s boy­cotting play­off com­mit­tee meet­ing be­cause of law that has been called anti-gay.

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 anti­gay.

“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 ma­chine

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 ,6feet6 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.

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