NCAA President signals plan to 'phase-in' new transgender rules

NCAA President Mark Emmert hinted at changes expected to be "phased-in" to make collegiate standards for transgender athletes align with Olympic guidance.

Emmert said that the changes may disqualify new regulations set by USA Swimming that aim to tackle biological advantages.

The National Collegiate Coaches Association will continue its drive to alter rules to accommodate transgender athletes.

NCAA President Mark Emmert pointed to the direction the organization would take to "phase-in" Olympic-style standards for allowing athletes to compete according to their alleged gender identity. The question was risen at a press conference ahead of the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four on Mar. 31.

"The board is committed to using the same standards as the Olympics and simply phasing them in so that athletes know what they are far enough in advance that they can make decisions appropriately," Emmert said, according to a report by Fox News.

According to Emmert, the Board of Governors has agreed to implement the "new standard" beginning in the next competition cycle. The Committee of Medical Aspects of Sport will also be consulted to ensure the model is "consistent with collegiate athlete health and well-being and inclusion."

[RELATED: 'Unfair': Female swimmers discuss biological disadvantages compared to Lia Thomas, UPenn's male swimmer on women's team]

The International Olympic Committee's "Framework on Fairness, Inclusion, and Non-discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variants," adopted in 2021, enacts guidelines for allowing transgender athletes to compete on the world stage regardless of biological sex.

The guidelines exhibit contradictions that conflate the use of gender identity and sex. While the IOC does admit to the possibility of transgender athletes having a competitive advantage, it does not permit testing or assumption without clearly defined "evidence-based" approaches.

Per the non-discrimination clause of the framework, the IOC mandates that fairness be enforced in a manner that does not encroach on the ability of transgender athletes to compete according to gender identity.

"Provided they meet the eligibility criteria that are consistent with principle 4 [fairness,] athletes should be allowed to compete in the category that best aligns with their self-determined gender identity," the framework rules.

Emmert's comments suggest that such rules and procedures would slowly be enrolled to be reflective of the college atmosphere. 

[RELATED: Allowing men in women's sports just became the Biden administration's official policy]

Additionally, Emmert also provided a summary of the chronological layout of NCAA policies that regulate transgender participation thus far.

Campus Reform has tracked the changes that have shaken up the sports world this year.

The Board of Governors voted in January to dictate transgender eligibility to be determined on a "sport-by-sport" basis. Thus, each sport would be tasked with considering standards that must be met by transgender athletes to level the playing field for the competition. The "sport-by=sport" approach is adopted on the Olympic stage, as well.

In February, USA Swimming announced its new standards that would apply to swimmers not already grandfathered into the current 2021-2022 season. Under the new guidelines, men who identify as women are subjected to report testosterone levels below 5nmol/L for at least 36 months ahead of the competition. 

Male athletes will also be required to prove that going through puberty as a man does not provide an advantage over female athletes. However, all eligibility decisions will be considered by a panel of three "medical experts."

[RELATED: This woman's daughter competed against Lia Thomas at nationals. Now, she is speaking out.]

“At the elite level, a policy has been created for transgender athlete participation in the U.S. that relies on science and medical evidence-based methods to provide a level-playing field for elite cisgender women, and to mitigate the advantages associated with male puberty and physiology," the policy read.

Emmert remarked that is uncertain whether these new regulations will be allowed to regulate collegiate swimming once the Olympic-turned standards are imposed.

"And so the standards that have now been put in place by USA Swimming may or may not be adopted by the international federation, FINA," he said.

Campus Reform has reached out to USA swimming for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow @AlexaSchwerha1 on Twitter.