The University of Pennsylvania nominated Lia Thomas (a transgender swimmer) for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Woman of the year award.
Thomas is one of 577 nominees selected from the roughly 223,000 female collegiate athletes nationwide.
The NCAA’s Woman of the Year award recognizes “female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers.”
NCAA members can nominate two women student-athletes. However, if there are two, only one must be an international student athlete or student-athlete who is .”
With 2022 marking the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the NCAA is honoring the top 30 nominees and naming the award winner at its annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January.
Thomas, who had lackluster performances when competing against male student-athletes, made headlines this year after his first-place finish in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event in the NCAA’s swimming championship.
Lia Thomas just took first place at the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships in the 500 freestyle. #SaveWomensSports pic.twitter.com/UWvDQMYHRJ
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) March 17, 2022
Thomas shocked her teammates, pundits and critics. In an anonymous letter written to UPenn and the Ivy League, 16 of Thomas’ classmates complained about his “unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category.”
“Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female,” the letter said.
Another colleague said that he could tell if he was mentally ill .”
” You can see that he’s mentally ill. The video was shocking to me. Lia identified as a woman, but she is not a female,” the teammate said. That is an inescapable fact. It doesn’t really matter what you think .”
Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Martina Navratilova, a tennis legend for women, said that Thomas should have her name accompanied by an “asterisk .”
” It’s not about excluding transgender female winners ever,” Navratilova stated. It’s about not allowing transgender women to win when men were winning .
“For now the rules are as they are,” she said. She suggested that an “asterisk” be added in case she breaks records .”
The 577 nominees for NCAA’s Women of the Year represent student-athletes across 23 sports from the Division I, Division II, and Division III levels.