On Monday, a group of Republican governors addressed the NCAA in a communique, advocating for the association to reevaluate its stance on the participation of transgender athletes in college sports, citing the need for equitable competition.
The correspondence was dispatched to the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports and bore the signatures of Sarah Sanders (Arkansas), Governors Tate Reeves (Mississippi), Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Mike Parson (Missouri), Joe Lombardo (Nevada), Greg Gianforte (Montana), Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma), Greg Abbott (Texas), and Mark Gordon (Wyoming).
Their message was pointed and precise: “It is our firm belief that the NCAA should amend its Transgender Student Athlete Policy in a manner that upholds, enhances, and advocates for equity in women’s sports.”
The current NCAA regulations mandate transgender athletes to meet the eligibility standards set by each sport’s governing organization, which can include rules on testosterone levels.
The governors’ letter criticized the NCAA’s current policy: “Such a policy enables the NCAA to sidestep the responsibility of safeguarding the integrity of college sports — a situation that necessitates immediate attention.”
The letter referenced Riley Gaines, a former swimmer for the University of Kentucky, who faced transgender athlete Lia Thomas, a competitor from the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s team, in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships in March 2022. Thomas, previously ranked #462 in men’s competitions, ascended to the top position in women’s events and secured a win in the championships by a margin of 1.75 seconds.
The governors seized this moment to underscore their point: “The NCAA is presented with a prime opportunity to assure an equitable landscape in women’s athletics. Seizing this chance could broaden horizons and multiply opportunities for countless young women in the future.”
The letter also noted the decision by World Athletics, which, as of March 31, 2023, has chosen to bar biological males from competing in women’s events, highlighting the organization’s commitment to “fairness and integrity” in sports.