Had Bryant been granted membership, it may have stirred controversy on two fronts.
» Opinion: #MeToo, sexual violence and our sports heroes
In the run-up to the Oscars, thousands of people signed a petition demanding that Bryant's nomination for "Dear Basketball" be rescinded due to a sexual assault case brought against him in 2003, which was ultimately dropped and later the subject of a civil settlement. As the academy navigates the Time's Up and #MeToo movements — most recently with the expulsion of director Roman Polanski and comedy star Bill Cosby — his inclusion in the newest class might have raised thorny questions.
In addition, as the academy has rapidly expanded its ranks in recent years in an effort to diversify its historically overwhelmingly white and male membership, growing to more than 8,000 members, some rank-and-file members have feared a lowering of the standards for admission — concerns that might have arisen anew had Bryant, with his sparse film credits, scored an invitation.
Though relatively rare, it is not unprecedented for Oscar nominees and even winners to be denied — or, in some cases, decline — academy membership. For example, despite winning an Oscar for the 2016 Pixar short "Piper," producer Marc Sondheimer did not earn an invitation to join the group.