DeSantis Hammers NCAA over Destruction of Women’s Sports

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis struck a blow against the NCAA on Tuesday by issuing a proclamation declaring Sarasota native and University of Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant as the “fastest woman swimmer” at the Division I championships last weekend.

DeSantis slammed the collegiate sports governing body for “destroying opportunities for women” and committing fraud against the American public. He said the NCAA was making ideology a higher priority than opportunities for women.

The governor went on to say that Weyant was designated as the second-place finisher in the 500-yard freestyle championship only because of the NCAA policy allowing men to compete in women’s athletics. He said that he intended to correct the record by officially declaring that she was the top female swimmer in the event.

Weyant was able to keep a close pace with biological male transgender swimmer Lia Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania until the last 100 yards of the race. She finished 1.75 seconds behind Thomas at 4:34.99.

The NCAA amended its transgender athlete policy in January that says it is deferring to the guidance issued by each particular sport’s governing body. That policy went into effect earlier this month, just in time for last weekend’s swimming championships.

USA Swimming had updated its policy to require transgender athletes to have low levels of testosterone for at least 36 months before being eligible for women’s competitions. Thomas would not have been eligible for last weekend’s championships under that standard.

The NCAA then changed its position on deferring to the sport’s governing body and decided to override the testosterone rule. It stated that implementing the testosterone testing rule “could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts” on persons and schools who want to compete in the 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.

Weyant won the silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 400-meter individual medley. She is a three-time U.S. national champion and a four-time Florida High School Class 4-A state champion in the 500 freestyle and the 200 individual medley.

DeSantis told the press before issuing the proclamation that Weyant is an “absolute superstar” who had the fastest time of any woman competing in college in the nation. He said that the NCAA is unfortunately penalizing her while “basically destroying women’s athletics.”

DeSantis signed a bill passed by the state legislature into law in 2021 that prohibits biological males from participating in any level of organized women’s sports in Florida. The governor referenced that law, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which provides that males are to be classified as such based on the sex listed on their official birth certificate issued at the time of birth.