NCAA issues statement supporting transgender athletes, notes it is evaluating locations for championships

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FILE – In this April 19, 2019, file photo, an athlete stands near a NCAA logo during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. The NCAA is poised to take a significant step toward allowing college athletes to earn money without violating amateurism rules. The Board of Governors will be briefed Tuesday, Oct. 29 by administrators who have been examining whether it would be feasible to allow college athletes to profit of their names, images and likenesses. A California law set to take effect in 2023 would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prevent athletes from signing personal endorsement deals. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File)

INDIANAPOLIS – Officials with the NCAA issued a statement Monday showing support for transgender student-athletes while also saying they are reviewing which sites may host championship events.

This news could end up putting facilities in Arkansas at odds with the college sports governing body following the passage of a new law, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which prohibits transgender women from competing in women’s school sports at all levels in the state.

In the statement, the NCAA Board of Governors said it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports,” adding that it is their expectation that “all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect.”

The board noted it has had a policy for transgender athletes’ participation that follows similar guidelines from the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Officials then went on to state that the only locations that can be selected to hold a championship event are ones where “hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”

While no specific locations were mentioned in the NCAA statement as being removed from consideration for hosting, the passage of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act las month had some concerned the move could take the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville out of the running for hosting NCAA softball championship events.

The Arkansas bill was one of a number that have either become law or been proposed during this legislative session that critics say discriminate against transgendered individuals.

While Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the sports ban bill, he vetoed a measure that would ban certain medical treatments for transgender youth. That veto was overridden, however, by the General Assembly.

Another bill under consideration would direct school faculty and staff to refer to transgender students by the names and genders listed on their birth certificates.

The NCAA has not yet released the locations for the preliminary rounds of this year’s softball championship tournament. The Women’s College World Series is set for early June in Oklahoma City.

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