The governing body of collegiate sports, the NCAA, announced Monday it may bar locations in states that have anti-transgender legislation on the books from hosting championship games.
In a statement, the NCAA Board of Governor’s said their policy “directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”
“Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect,” the statement read. “We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.”
Though dozens of states have considered legislation that would ban transgender athletes from participating in sports, particularly in women’s sports, the NCAA board has not made the decision on whether to move already scheduled championship games, NCAA spokesperson Michelle Hosick said. The board has also not decided whether their decision will affect every round of NCAA hosted tournaments or just the championship game, Hosick added.
South Carolina has considered legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in high school or middle school women’s sports twice this year.
In March, the first version of the bill was defeated in the House Judiciary Committee. A second bill was refiled last week and passed out of a subcommittee on Thursday, moving to the full Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers maintained that the bill may have more support than they originally thought.
Advocates for the bill have said it’s necessary to foster a fair level of competition within women’s sports. They argue that transgender women and girls have a biological athletic advantage over their cisgender counterparts. Cisgender people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
LGBTQ advocates, however, believe the bill is discriminatory and will lead to more harm among trans youth.
The next NCAA tournament event South Carolina is scheduled to host is in June, when teams will compete in the NCAA baseball tournament.
It’s unclear how the NCAA’s latest statement could affect the tournament. It would take a tremendous effort from lawmakers to pass the trans athletes bill by the end of this year’s session in May.
The NCAA’s announcement comes after hundreds of student athletes signed a letter in March calling on the governing body to stop hosting championships in states that bar trans athletes from participating in college sports.