NCAA president: Indiana law against our core values

Indiana's RFRA controversy spills into NCAA
Indiana's RFRA controversy spills into NCAA

NCAA President Mark Emmert said Tuesday that Indiana's new "religious freedom" law goes against what higher education and America is all about.

Proponents say the Indiana law would stop the government from compelling people to do things they object to on religious grounds. But critics say it opens the door to discrimination against gays and others in the name of religion.

"This is an issue of extraordinary importance to all of us," Emmert said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." The NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis, and the men's March Madness Final Four basketball games are being staged in the city this weekend.

"It's important to us because we're an employer here in this state. But most importantly ... it strikes at the core values" of inclusion and diversity," he said.

The law does not go into effect until July. "Nothing is going to happen this weekend at the Final Four that we think is out of the ordinary," Emmert said. But going forward "members of the NCAA have to stop and say, 'What relationship do we want with the state of Indiana.' We hold lots of events here."

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana is responding to critics of the law, writing in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that protecting religious freedom under Obamacare, not discrimination against gays, was the driver behind the effort. Pence, mentioned as possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, wrote that he abhors discrimination.

Marriott CEO speaks out against RFRA
Marriott CEO speaks out against RFRA

Many corporate leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, are also speaking out against the law.

Nineteen states have similar measures on the books—modeled after a federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Read MoreIndiana's Religious Freedom law explained