The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has found itself at the center of controversy after naming three states with anti-transgender legislation as hosts for its postseason softball tournament, contradicting a previous statement expressing its firm support for transgender student-athletes.
Southeastern Conference schools from Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee were chosen as regional host sites for the upcoming 64-team tournament to begin on Friday.
The recent decision comes as on the heels of legislation introduced in dozens of states seeking to bar the participation of transgender athletes, according to USA Today.
Transgender triathlete Chris Mosier pointed out that the NCAA did not follow through with the previous statement of its Board of Governors which mentioned how the organization would take anti-transgender laws into consideration when looking for possible hosts for competitions.
“The NCAA’s lack of action in remaining silent as these bills were being discussed was a passive offense to transgender student-athletes, but this is an actual attack — the NCAA is saying, clearly, ‘We do not care about our transgender student-athletes,'” Mosier told USA Today.
In the statement, the organization wrote, “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.”
“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,” it added.
Unsurprisingly, the decision to select these states did not sit well with national and local advocacy groups who are now pushing for the association to strongly reject transgender discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign said in a statement that the NCAA “should be ashamed of themselves for violating their own policy by choosing to hold championships in states that are not healthy, safe, or free from discrimination for their athletes.”
“While we have remained hopeful about the NCAA stepping up to the plate and taking action like they have done in the past, they are willfully ignoring that commitment this time…The NCAA must face scrutiny and public pressure to do the right thing,” it read.