The NCAA has release new guidelines with a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.
Approved by the NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday, the new policy updates defers transgender participation for each sport to each sport’s national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors.
When there is no national governing body, that sport’s international federation policy would be in place. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would take over.
“Approximately 80% of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. “This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics.”
The NCAA policy is effective immediately, beginning with the 2022 winter championships.
Transgender athletic controversy return to headlines when Penn swimmer Lia Thomas crushed female records after participating in the men’s division for three years. Thomas finished about two full seconds ahead of the opposition with a time of 1:48.73 in the 200 freestyle.
The Board of Governors is suggesting NCAA divisions allow for additional eligibility if a transgender student-athlete loses eligibility based on the policy change.
That flexibility is provided they meet the NCAA’s new guidelines.
“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports,” Georgetown President John DeGioia said in a release. “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.”
So, with the new policy, swimming athletes, for example, will be governed by USA Swimming policies, which follow the International Olympic Committee. The IOC’s rules state: “Trans female athletes must demonstrate a total testosterone level in serum below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 consecutive months prior to competition and must remain below this threshold throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category in any event.”