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Female college athletes warned the NCAA on Thursday to keep biological men out of their sports, or else.
Marshi Smith, former University of Arizona swimming champion, read a letter during a Thursday presser outside the NCAA annual convention urging the organization to “take direct and immediate action to establish rules to keep women’s collegiate sports female.”
Among the list of demands Smith read was requiring schools to provide female-only locker rooms, repealing policies that “allow male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and/or compete in women’s events” and establishing rules to “keep women’s sports female.”
If the NCAA fails to comply, Smith continued, they better lawyer up.
“If you do not protect female athletes from discrimination on the basis of sex, we will embark on legal action to compel you to do so,” Smith said, reading a letter from attorneys for the Jackson Bone law firm.
“We’re here and we’re not going to stop speaking and advocating until we know women’s sports have rules in place that defend integrity and fairness for female athletes,” said Smith, who is also the co-founder of the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS).
Lia Thomas situation sparks outrage at rally
Thursday’s rally comes on the heels of a contentious year between the NCAA and female student-athletes, most notably the Lia Thomas situation.
Thomas, a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer, became the first male-born athlete last year to win an NCAA women’s title after transitioning to female following three years on the men’s team.
Among those in attendance Thursday was former University of Kentucky swimming champion Riley Gaines, who finished fifth to Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.
“This isn’t just about me,” Gaines said Thursday. “I’m speaking for those people who can’t handle being called transphobic or can’t handle being called hateful or a bigot, or all of those things which aren’t true, because in reality you’re just asking for the bare minimum and standing up for yourself.”
The NCAA last year dropped its testosterone requirement for male-born athletes, instead opting to defer any decisions to the national governing bodies for individual sports which “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”