The NCAA announced on Wednesday night that it has updated its policy regarding transgender participation in sports.
Transgender participation has become a growing topic of discussion in the college sports world this year. Lia Thomas, a female swimmer at Penn, has dominated the competition this season. Thomas, who previously competed on the men's team, could break several all-time NCAA records.
The new policy, which is effective immediately, "aligns transgender student-athlete participation for college sports with recent policy changes from the U.S. and International Olympic Committees."
Here's the new policy, according to the NCAA:
Like the Olympics, the updated NCAA policy calls for transgender participation for each sport to be determined by the policy for the national governing body of that sport, subject to ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to the Board of Governors. If there is no NGB policy for a sport, that sport's international federation policy would be followed. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would be followed.
The Board of Governors urged the divisions to provide flexibility to allow for additional eligibility if a transgender student-athlete loses eligibility based on the policy change provided they meet the newly adopted standards.
The policy is effective starting with the 2022 winter championships. Transgender student-athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport's championship selections. Starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender student-athletes will need documented levels at the beginning of their season and a second documentation six months after the first. They will also need documented testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections. Full implementation would begin with the 2023-24 academic year.
Essentially, eligibility will now be determined by the sport's governing body.
The NCAA is now closely aligned with the Olympics regarding this matter.
"Approximately 80 percent of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes," said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. "This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics."