In Letter, NCAA President Mark Emmert Says Governing Body Will Continue to Allow Transgender Participation

Lia Thomas - NCAA

NCAA President Mark Emmert Says Governing Body Will Continue to Allow Transgender Participation

In a recent letter sent to a former Olympian and multi-time NCAA champion who is fighting for women’s rights and against the unfairness of transgender women competing against biological women, NCAA President Mark Emmert noted the organization he oversees has no plans to change its rules on the topic. The letter was shared with Swimming World, with the writer requesting anonymity.

The issue of transgender participation at the NCAA level became a hot-button topic this winter with University of Pennsylvania athlete Lia Thomas competing for the Quakers, and eventually winning an NCAA title in the 500-yard freestyle. Before transitioning, Thomas spent three years as a member of the men’s squad at Penn.

The argument against transgender women competing against biological women stems from the advantages transgender athletes reap from male puberty. In addition to the strength gained from testosterone production, transgender women benefit from larger lung capacity, greater height and larger hands and feet.

The NCAA initially indicated it would abide by the guidelines set forth by various national governing bodies. However, when USA Swimming developed stringent rules for participation, the NCAA backtracked on its stance.

Here is what Emmert wrote in his letter.

Thank you for writing to express your concerns regarding the recent policy change for transgender student-athlete participation. As the top governing board of the NCAA, the Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.

We understand there are differing views on transgender student-athlete participation in sport. The NCAA’s current policy is anchored in the evolving science on this issue and in the sport-specific policies of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s national governing bodies, of international federations and of the International Olympic Committee when relevant. Further, the policy provides the Board of Governors and the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports the opportunity to review and approve each policy to ensure it aligns with the core values of the NCAA. The resulting sport-by-sport approach preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.

The NCAA Board of Governors expects that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.

As your letter illustrates, this is an important topic, and the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports along with the Board of Governors will continue to monitor the issue and recommend adjustments to the policy as needed.

Thank you again for writing and sharing your concerns.

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Done
2 months ago

The NCAA has just abandoned women and girls completely. I have no more respect for it left. Zero.

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Terry Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Done

Letting UNC cheat for 20 years didn’t do that???

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Veritas
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry Watts

Let’s just say that the NCAA is hardly a paragon of either virtue or truth.

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Angry swim mom
2 months ago

Have a separate groups for the transgender athletes

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Former gay swimmer
2 months ago
Reply to  Angry swim mom

Exactly, being a gay man myself I think the NCAA doesn’t really care about the biological females at all, once again it’s all political. Because a guy can’t beat the others guys now he’s a woman, NOT.

Last edited 2 months ago by ras0331
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Nick
2 months ago

What was your motivation for coming out as gay?
As a gay man and swimmer myself my motivation to come out was to be my authentic self and not have to hide who I am from everyone, particularly the people I love. If you think Lia’s motivation to come out as trans isn’t the same as yours or mine then you need to educate yourself. Also no trans woman has ever transitioned just to win at sports.

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Ken
2 months ago
Reply to  Angry swim mom

The already is a group – men.

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Ken
2 months ago

“..the argument against transgender women competing against biological women..” should read “.the argument against men competing against women..”. Let’s be clear. And the reference to science is totally bogus. The science is clear that it is not fair to women.

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Just a dad
2 months ago

Seeking clarity here… So NCAA will now begin to enforce the published requirement of proven and documented 36-month level of 5 nmol testosterone that they waived for the recently completed 2022 championships, or not??

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Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Just a dad

No they didn’t say that, it says their “current” rules are sufficient.

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ViJai Minerva
2 months ago

Then women have to stop competing in NCAA teams & events full stop.

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J. Gibdon
2 months ago
Reply to  ViJai Minerva

A Biological woman beating a man in sports, I’m not sure where sports is headed for at this point . Since everyone is changing all the rules ,why not put women on the football teams? Men are head of these decisions and trying to driving women back into a dress .
Equality in letting men compete with women in sports….. Absurd…the NCAA has made it clear how they view the ” “””BIOLOGICAL FEMALE”””,We are human and deserve Respect ,dignity, honor and happiness as well.

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MITCHELL
2 months ago

NCAA….EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY. CALLING NCAA PATHETIC IS AN INSULT TO PATHETIC

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Steve
2 months ago

Unbelievable…. Please someone show me the “science” they are founded in that proves a man can take some drugs for 12 months and become a female swimmer?

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GSW
2 months ago

I think transgender athletes should be able to compete, but transgender women should NOT compete in the female categories for all of the scientific reasons.

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Mark Quinzi
2 months ago

The state of competition in Women’s swimming right now reminds me of eating goldfish crackers and feeling like Godzilla compared to the crackers. 6’4″ Lia is impressive but its about as balanced as Godzilla vs the Goldfish when it comes to competitive swimming.

Godzill vs Goldfish.jpg
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Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Quinzi

Lia isn’t 6’4”

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Laurie S
2 months ago

Fairness in women’s college sports competition was established when women (born females) were allowed to have their own category. Now NCAA wants to go backwards and have women give up that category to include males who “feel” like women. Ridiculous and unfair to born females!

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Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  Laurie S

But the inclusion of trans women wasn’t just made now, it’s been around since 2011.

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Audrey
2 months ago

As a transgender veteran I can tell 100 percent I am weaker than before and I can 100 percent tell you that if you think transgender women have a unfair advantage you are 100 percent transphobic. This is not a discussion or debate it’s pure hate and discrimination. Lastly by saying transgender women are men and it’s unfair you are 100 percent saying women are not equal to men and you are 100 percent taking steps backwards in womens equality. It’s sick to think anyone would tell a woman she is not equal to males of any kind. I am not a man I am a woman transgender is a adjective. Also this message is 100 percent sexiest because you are not saying anything about transgender men competing against males. If you believe transgender women are men than you believe transgender men are women and if you are okay with in your opinion a woman competing against men but your absolutely not okay with in your words a man competing against women than you are being sexist. As I said I am a woman period but using your own argument the message you are sending is women are not equal to men. That is just sad that you would willingly erase the entire fight for womens equality because your transphobic.

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Swimmer mom
2 months ago
Reply to  Audrey

You know, calling people names just because they don’t agree with you isn’t helping your cause. It’s just saying you’re a narrow, self-centered person.
i’m glad that you were able to transition and now feel like your body matches what you feel inside. However, while you may be physically weaker than you were before, you have still retained many of the physical advantages that male puberty gave you, and those physical characteristics make it unfair, and in some sports, downright physically dangerous for you to compete against cis gender women. There are many other ways to be inclusive that don’t harm everyone else. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

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Audrey
2 months ago
Reply to  Swimmer mom

Bigot

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Astro
2 months ago
Reply to  Audrey

Women’s sports are for females. It’s as simple as that. Live your life however you choose – you are entitled to do so just as every human being is. No one is denying you that. Sports are separated by sex. You are not female, and neither is Lia Thomas or any other transwoman. To say so is not sexist. To tell women that they are setting back women’s rights by fighting for their spaces is, however, deeply misogynistic. Please educate yourself.

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anotherswimmom
2 months ago
Reply to  Audrey

Part of the unfairness I see is that both transgender men and transgender women compete in the women’s division. Do you think that’s right? Or do you think all transgender men should compete against men?

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Athlete and Mom
2 months ago
Reply to  Audrey

To Audrey and all the other transgender women, men, girls, and boys, whether athletes or not:

There are people who love and support you, who understand that science and truth are on your side. If you haven’t read biologist Julia Serano’s work based on peer reviewed studies, it’s great and informative.

As a former NCAA female athlete and a parent, I support Lia’s right to compete. I also applaud you Audrey for coming on this site and standing up to people who deny your identity. You are making the world a better place, and when you do that there are people who will hate you for it. Do it anyway, but remember your first responsibility is to yourself and to stay alive.

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mom of girl swimmers
2 months ago

I’m beyond angry. They tell my daughter that thomas just practices more. Really, my kid is up at 4:20am 6 days a week swimming not including dry land. They slapped every girl/woman in the face. Time to start our own ledge away from USA Swim. They are poison.

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Seth
2 months ago

Bye, mom-of-girl-swimmers

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Veritas
2 months ago

Mark Emmert says the NCAA is “committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.”  Mark, there is a woman that earned the right to swim at NCAAs but the NCAA didn’t invite her because it invited Lia Thomas instead.  

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Veritas
2 months ago

Mark Emmert says the NCAA is “committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.”  Mark, at least a dozen women no longer hold pool records they set because the NCAA decided that it was just fine to let Lia Thomas swim in women’s competition.  

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Veritas
2 months ago

Mark, do you know the names of the dozens of women that either did not receive they recognition they actually deserved, or that were stripped of their accomplishments because you decided to “accommodate” Lia Thomas?  You should learn all of them, apologize to them in writing and make sure they receive the recognition they earned.

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Bob McNeil
2 months ago

The ncaa has outlived its usefulness ! Time for a couple of power 5 conferences to call for abolishing the ncaa and start own governing body!

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Veritas
2 months ago

Swimming is an incredibly difficult and unforgiving sport because we decide placing by automatic timing that differentiates by the hundredth of a second. it is so incredibly difficult to do something like make it onto a NCAA conference champion team. Most swimmers don’t ever qualify for a national meet. Everything I’ve listed in every post I’ve made is the accomplishment of a lifetime for 99.99% of all swimmers. We need to do everything we can to make the sport fair. It was not fair to all of the women to the women on Penn’s team, in the Ivy League or NCAAs for Lia Thomas to compete as a woman. And, I am really sorry that Lia Thomas is mentally ill, but that doesn’t justify harming all these women.

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Tilden matthews
2 months ago

I’ve said it before and my comment has never been posted. I’ll try one last time – this author, john lohn, has a clear point of view on the subject of lia Thomas. So much so that he has posted what is essentially the exact same Article ~15 times in the past month.

Personally I agree with John’s point of view. What I don’t agree with is swimming world choosing to post the same man’s point of view 15 times without ever sharing a different one. I would love to hear opposing arguments – even if my mind isn’t changed (and I doubt it would be), it would be good to be educated on alternative viewpoints rather than just hear the same man say the same thing over and over

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logic
2 months ago

so just to be clear, if you are a woman and take performance enhancing drugs you are excluded from competition but if you are a man, you can go ahead and compete in the female bracket. I guess women who cheat are bad but men who cheat are heros. WTF? Mark Emmert, you are a fool. Your job matters more than all the values you claim to uphold. The NCAA is one of America’s worst institutions.

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Title IX gladiator
2 months ago

This is so blatantly dishonest by Emmert to say they balance fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete, and that ‘all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect’, while spitting in the face of the women who are competing against a gender dysphoria athlete. How fair will it be when it is a contact sport, and the transgender athlete severely injures someone? That isn’t safe or respectful. It is also outrageous that women’s rights groups are not speaking out more against this, but they have married themselves to special interest groups that they thought would align with them politically. At the same time they consider anorexia and eating disorders to be serious mental disorders that need counseling and psychological intervention. Do they agree and say ‘yes, you are fat and need to lose weight and celebrate their skinnyness?

This issue is so unfair to women, and for those who have fought for 50 years to have equal access, they better be ready to fight again.

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Mike
2 months ago

We need to take a page from the other side and cancel this Mark Emmert!

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