Seventeen national advocacy organizations — including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and Athlete Ally — have called on the NCAA "to include previously existing nondiscrimination protections" in the regulatory body's new constitution, Sports Illustrated reports.
Though the latest draft of the document includes changes awarding more power to schools and conferences, the amended version "removed nondiscrimination language that sought to protect women, athletes of color and LGBTQ athletes in NCAA competitions," Sports Illustrated writes, per the advocacy groups' letter to the NCAA Board of Governors ahead of a vote to ratify the constitution.
"While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play," reads the letter.
The groups also highlighted the particular challenges faced by transgender athletes "who have to contend with discriminatory laws that are being enacted in states across the country," per the letter. Though the NCAA has previously "responded firmly" to discrimination against transgender athletes, the new constitution has left advocacy groups "wary of trusting states and individual schools," writes Sports Illustrated.
Notably, on Wednesday night, the NCAA updated its guidelines to reflect a "sport-by-sport" approach for policies relating to transgender athletes, "bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees," writes NBC News.
Per the new guidelines, transgender athlete participation will be decided by the sport's national governing body, "subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors," per NBC News. In instances where there is no national body, the sport's international federation policy or IOC policy criteria would take effect. The new rules are effective immediately.
HRC is "still reviewing" the NCAA's updated policy.