The NCAA sided with transgender athletes on Monday, saying they will no longer hold events in states that aren’t “free of discrimination.”
The NCAA Board of Governors made the announcement as legislatures in more than two dozen states propose, debate, and advance legislation aimed at requiring state schools to ensure that athletes compete in the category of their assigned birth gender.
The Board of Governors says that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.”
Instead of banning transgender athletes from women’s sports, the NCAA’s approach would require trans athletes to undergo testosterone suppression treatment before they could compete. According to the Board of Governors, this approach would ensure that “inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport.”
According to a statement from the Board of Governors:
When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.
However, the league did stop short of saying they would pull any championship games from states with laws restricting transgender participation.
“The Board of Governors continues to monitor the situation and has not made a decision regarding championships,” the league explained.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hailed the NCAA’s decision:
Today the NCAA confirmed it will pull events from states with bills banning trans students from participating in school sports.
State lawmakers take note: discriminating against trans youth is wrong, against the law, and costly.
— ACLU (@ACLU) April 12, 2021
The states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Idaho, and Arkansas, have already banned transgender participation in women’s sports. In Arkansas, the state legislature overrode a veto from Governor Asa Hutchinson (R, AK) to enact the ban.
The NCAA has demonstrated a willingness to pull events from states who pass conservative laws. In 2016, the collegiate sports governing body pulled seven games out of North Carolina after the state passed HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill, ” requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponded with sex on their birth certificates.