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NCAA Announces New Transgender Participation Policy, Will Use Sport-by-Sport Approach

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 20, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 9: A generic view of the NCAA National Headquarters before the 2021 NCAA Men's Final Four as seen on March 9, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NCAA's Board of Governors has voted in favor of a new policy regarding the participation of transgender athletes on a "sport-by-sport approach."

The new rules will take effect with the 2022 winter championships:

"Like the Olympics, the updated NCAA policy calls for transgender participation for each sport to be determined by the policy for the national governing body of that sport, subject to ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to the Board of Governors. If there is no NGB policy for a sport, that sport's international federation policy would be followed. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would be followed."

In order to compete, transgender athletes are required to show testosterone levels that meet the standard of their respective sport. For the upcoming winter championships, the information will need to be provided four weeks before the championship fields are selected.

"We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports," Board of Governors chair John DeGioia said. "It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy."

The University of Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas, who is transgender, is on pace to qualify for the national championships in swimming, having posted the best times in the 200-yard and 500-yard women's freestyle events. The NCAA's updated policy would open the door for Thomas to compete in the women's swimming and diving championships, which begin March 16.

Thomas would need to satisfy USA Swimming's requirements in order to race. Katie Barnes of espnW.com shared a statement from Penn about Thomas' status:

"Penn Athletics is aware of the NCAA's new transgender participation policy. In support of our student-athlete, Lia Thomas, we will work with the NCAA regarding her participation under the newly adopted standards for the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship."

The NCAA's announcement comes after the International Olympic Committee amended its policies on transgender athletes in November.

Barnes noted 10 states have taken steps to prohibit transgender athletes from competing in school sports, which in many cases applies to college athletics.