Taipans' NBL sponsor at odds with club

Isaac Humphries has expressed his disappointment at Cairns' decision not to wear jerseys celebrating the NBL's inaugural Pride Round while the club's major sponsor has also condemned the move.

Vice-chancellor and president of naming-rights sponsor CQUniversity Nick Klomp confirmed he was not consulted before the team's late decision not to wear the themed uniform, featuring a small rainbow-coloured logo, in Wednesday's loss to South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Taipans coach Adam Forde insisted the club supported the Pride Round concept but argued they were protecting the playing group from abuse and "vilification" after reports surfaced of disinclination to wear the uniform on religious grounds.

The team plays two more games during Pride Round -- in Cairns on Saturday and Monday -- and it is understood the club have yet to decide what uniform they will wear.

The call has been met with harsh criticism in some circles, with Swinburne University sports innovation expert Ryan Storr labelling it a "kick in the face" and "one of the worst attempts at PR and comms I have seen related to LGBTIQ+ inclusion".

Melbourne United forward Humphries, the league's first active openly gay player, revealed the mental health struggles he had endured while coming to terms with his sexuality in an emotional address to teammates last November.

He told ESPN he was disappointed by the community-owned Taipans' stance and that "each of us needs to ask ourselves: what kind of courage did we display when our leadership moment arrived?".

Klomp joined the critics on Friday, confirming he only learned of the decision when a club statement was released shortly before the game.

"As major sponsor of the Cairns Taipans, CQUniversity does not agree with the Taipans' decision not to wear the Pride jersey," he said.

"I spoke briefly to Taipans management on Wednesday night, with a view to engaging in more in-depth discussions with the club in the coming days."

The university has sponsored Cairns' only national sporting team since 2012 and been naming-rights sponsor since 2014.

"At CQUniversity, inclusiveness is one of our core values," Klomp said.

"We strive every day to ensure our campuses and online environments are safe spaces for all people, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.

"I was therefore delighted to see the NBL join the ranks of other sporting codes this week in hosting an inaugural Pride round."

The NBL said the round was designed to "promote, celebrate and give thanks to the LGBTQ community, while showcasing basketball as a sport striving to provide a safe, healthy and accessible environment for all".

Teams were given access to awareness training and an option to wear a themed jersey during the round.

Taipans coach Forde attempted to explain the club's intentions after Wednesday's defeat before shutting down further questions, including those directed at player Ben Ayre.

"We support the NBL's initiative and the message of what this round represents; individuality, unity and love, right?" Forde, who was wearing a Pride badge during the game, said.

"And we weren't unfortunately recipients of it, for some unknown reason."

Humphries told ESPN, "When it comes to inclusion, I will always stand up and speak out when needed for my sport, for my community, and I'm disappointed for my LGBTQ+ family of athletes and coaches who live silently in the closet".

"If we are going to move forward with true equality, equity and inclusion in sport for LGBTQ+ athletes, we have to start by getting honest. We have to acknowledge there is a problem," he said.