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NCAA statement takes aim at laws barring transgender athletes

Mississippi Fairness Act Signing Ceremony

Governor Tate Reeves signs the Mississippi Fairness Act in the rotunda of the capitol. Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi

A recently enacted law in Mississippi could once again place the state in the crosshairs of the NCAA. 

It was less than a year ago that the governing body of college athletics singled out Mississippi with a policy prohibiting championship events from being held in states whose flag featured confederate imagery. The flag ultimately came down, seemingly putting the Magnolia State back in the good graces of the NCAA. 

Fast forward to the 2021 legislative session which saw the passage and signing of the ‘Mississippi Fairness Act’—a bill that bars transgender athletes (biological males) from competing in women’s sports in the state’s public schools and universities. A statement from the NCAA Board of Governors outlining its commitment to “inclusion and fair competition” seems to allude to the fact that this law could once again put the ability to host certain championship events in Mississippi in jeopardy once again. 

“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,” the statement partially reads. 

Tennesee and Arkansas have enacted similar legislation, and according to NPR, such legislation has been introduced in 35 states.

The timing of the statement goes noted as today is the deadline for programs to submit their bids to become one of the predetermined regional or super-regional sites for the upcoming NCAA Baseball Tournament. Mississippi State and Ole Miss are currently each ranked inside the top 10 and Southern Miss is knocking on the door of the top 25.

The full statement from the NCAA, which also briefly explains the organization’s participation policy for transgender athletes, can be seen below:

The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.

The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is 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.

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. 

 

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