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NCAA releases statement in support of transgender athletes

Sports at the Legislature
Posted at 3:17 PM, Apr 12, 2021

The NCAA Board of Governors released a strong statement on Monday that could spell the end of playoff football at Bobcat Stadium or Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Montana lawmakers are currently considering House Bill 112, which would not allow male-to-female transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports in high school or college. If legislators pass the bill, the NCAA Board of Governors' statement indicates that NCAA championship events, including FCS playoff games, would not be permitted in Montana. Both Montana and Montana State hosted playoff games in 2019, the last season in which either football program competed.

"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 NCAA Board of Governors' statement read.

"The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. 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. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants."

The NCAA adopted its policy of inclusion of transgender student-athletes in 2010 and set precedent for pulling championship events in 2016. The NCAA removed seven championships from North Carolina, including NCAA Tournament men's basketball games, after the state passed its controversial "bathroom bill" that prohibited transgender people from using restrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

HB 112 would contradict the NCAA's policy, but the bill has a long way to go before it's passed. The Montana House voted Monday to send HB 112 to a conference committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Fuller, R-Whitefish, moved through the House and then the Senate approved an amended version. The House voted 97-2 on Monday to reject the Senate's amendment.

Montana and Montana State football games bring in big money to both athletic departments and the surrounding communities. According to a research study from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at Montana back in 2016, Griz home football games brought in an estimated $2.53 million from out-of-area spending per home game. That number has likely gone up in recent years due to inflation.