New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a social media beating over a state travel ban that will force New York student athletes to stay in Virginia during the upcoming NCAA Division III Swimming Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“King Cuomo” -- as critics are calling him on Twitter -- is being accused of punishing his state’s student athletes in retaliation for N.C.’s repealed HB2 “bathroom bill,” which sought to keep transgender people out of the restroom of their sexual identity.
Cuomo told the New York Post that he left the ban in place because the N.C. law that replaced HB2 still allows “discriminatory practices” against the LGBT community. Cuomo issued an executive order for the travel ban in 2016, according to the New York Post.
But public outcry continues to grow over the burden on athletes, with New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan telling Fox News: “These kids have worked a lifetime to get to these championships. It’s inappropriate to make a political statement on the backs of these kids.”
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The 13 swimmers will “have to travel more than an hour from a hotel in Virginia to the competition site” March 20-23, reported the Associated Press. (It’s about 50 miles from Greensboro to Danville, Virginia, just north of the state line.)
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) notched up the political rhetoric with a press release offering to cover hotel bills in Greensboro for the students, and accusing Cuomo of using the athletes as “political pawns.”
“Student-athletes shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage...,” Walker said in a press release. “We would be proud to have the SUNY (State University of New York) students stay in our great state.”
Other critics of the ban noted irony in the idea that the athletes will be staying in Virginia at a time when multiple top state officials there are weathering scandals ranging from wearing racist blackface to alleged sexual assaults on women.
It has also been pointed out that there is a touch of hypocrisy in objecting to the students sleeping in N.C., while allowing them to compete in an event hosted by a North Carolina city.
“So repeal of HB2 makes it okay for NC to host (the NBA) All-Star Game (and) ACC tourney, but swimmers still can’t stay here? WHAT?” asked Diana Rugg of North Carolina on Twitter.
“Cuomo you aren’t punishing North Carolina, you are punishing student-athletes who have done nothing wrong except chose to represent a SUNY (State University of New York) college,” tweeted Coleman Stewart.
“Cuomo is disgraceful,” concluded a Tweet by Bull Mann.