The NCAA has postponed a decision on whether to punish Idaho for a law singling out transgender athletes for discrimination by moving the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament from Boise next year.
Last week, the NCAA Board of Presidents had been scheduled to meet to discuss the bill, which prohibits transgender female athletes from competing in women’s sports and sidelines those whose assigned sex at birth is in question.
The law is the subject of a lawsuit brought by a transgender Idaho college cross-country runner and a cisgender high school student who fears she will be subjected to genetic testing because of possible nonconformity to gender stereotypes.
Following passage of the law in March, the NCAA — which had previously come out against the proposed law — received three letters from student-athletes, professional athletes, and advocacy groups demanding that the NCAA move the tournament from Idaho, just as it moved several sporting events from North Carolina in 2016 after passage of the Tar Heel State’s controversial HB 2 “bathroom bill.”
The organization has also previously banned South Carolina and Mississippi from hosting NCAA events in protest of those states’ embrace of the Confederate flag.
The NCAA’s current policy allows transgender athletes who have undergone hormone therapy for more than a year to compete in sports based on their gender identity, putting its own policy at odds with state law. As such, critics argue, the organization should move the men’s basketball games on March 18 and 20 to another location.
But the Board of Presidents delayed last week’s vote until its October meeting, citing the need to see how the lawsuit is resolved or whether courts take any action to block the law.
“The NCAA is working with national and international groups as it reviews its current transgender athlete policy,” the organization said in a statement to the Idaho State Journal.
“Inclusion and fairness are the objectives in addressing the complex set of issues. The NCAA Board of Governors will hear an update regarding the policy review at its October meeting as it considers future championship host sites. The NCAA is monitoring the lawsuit involving Idaho Bill 500 and will review the court’s decision when it is made.”
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