JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The NCAA Board of Governors is speaking out against recent legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in sports.
Mississippi is one of several states to enact such legislation, with Governor Tate Reeves signing the “Mississippi Fairness Act” last month.
“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 statement reads.
While the statement stops short of banning championships from Mississippi (as well as Tennessee, Arkansas, etc.), it implies that states with such a ban may not be chosen.
“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.”
Reeves said he signed the bill to “ensure young girls in Mississippi have a fair playing field in public sports.”
While he admitted there are no examples of a transgender athlete playing for a team in Mississippi, he said the bill would “prevent it from happening in the future.”
Detractors say the bill isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports but about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life.
“The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports,” the statement reads “...Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport.”
Republican Senator Roger Wicker tweeted in reference to the statement, saying it’s “unbelievable.”
“@NCAA wants to take away opportunities from Mississippi athletes because our state believes in biology. At this rate, they will have to cancel every other state that decides to protect women’s sports,” Wicker tweeted.
It would be the second time in less than a year that the NCAA enacted such a ban on Mississippi.
In June 2020, the board ruled that the state could not host any championships because the state flag included the Confederate battle emblem. That ban has since been lifted with the introduction of a new state flag.