The NCAA is “closely” keeping tabs on states including Florida that are moving to ban transgender athletes from playing girls’ sports, warning in a statement Monday that locations that don’t treat all student-athletes with “dignity and respect” could lose out on hosting championship games.
While not mentioning Florida by name, the statement from the NCAA Board of Governors comes just one day before the House is slated to take up its proposal clarifying that female sports teams are specifically for “biological” women and girls. State lawmakers were quick to criticize the NCAA’s take on the issue.
“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,” the NCAA Board of Governors wrote in a statement.
Senate delay: With the full Florida House set to consider its transgender sports ban Tuesday, Senate leaders late on Monday opted to withdraw the upper chamber’s proposal from an upcoming agenda.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican who sponsored, FL SB 2012, is pulling the bill from Wednesday’s “busy” Rules Committee meeting, Senate spokesperson Katie Betta tweeted Monday. This could mean the Senate is backing off from its proposal, or simply delaying its final hearing.
Laying it out: Florida is one of more than 20 other states with Republican-controlled legislatures that are jumping on women’s sports as a banner issue magnified by top voices at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
Democrats and other opponents of the legislation, which has been endorsed by Republicans in the House and Senate, warned from the start that it could fuel blowback the NCAA and corporate sponsors. But the GOP has taken the policy on as a priority, undeterred by the debate christened as “wokeness versus science.”
A top House education leader was among the first lawmakers to slam the NCAA’s stance on Monday.
“The NCAA needs to treat their own athletes with ‘dignity and respect,’” state Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater), chair of the House education committee, wrote on Twitter. “The women’s basketball tourney had subpar facilities and covid testing and the volleyball tournament wasn’t even going to have announcers for the first 2 [rounds.]”
In its statement, the NCAA maintains that the agency has a long-standing policy toward a “more inclusive” path for transgender participation in college sports that requires hormone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports.
The NCAA is the latest example of corporate activism in the sports world after the MLB pulled its All-Star Game from Atlanta over Georgia’s new voting rights laws.