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Friday, June 14, 2024

NAIA Transgender Athlete Ban From Women’s Sports Will Impact 22 HBCUs


The Council of Presidents of the NAIA has recently approved a policy that allows only those student-athletes to participate in women’s sports who were assigned the female gender at birth. This means that transgender athletes will no longer be able to compete in women’s sports. The new policy is expected to impact 22 HBCUs.

According to reports, the NAIA is the first national college governing body to issue such a mandate that requires athletes to compete based on their assigned birth sex. The Council of Presidents was surveyed in December 2023, which revealed widespread support for the move.

On Monday, April 8th, 2024, the council voted 25-0 to approve the policy.


The NAIA’s Council of President’s chair, Amy Novak, who is also the president of St. Ambrose University, said that the task force had spent almost two years reviewing research and meeting with experts to understand the policy’s challenges before obtaining feedback from multiple membership groups.

“With this policy, the NAIA has made its best effort to allow for the inclusion of transgender athletes in any way which does not impact the competitive fairness of women’s sports.”

Amy Novak, NAIA Council of President’s Chair

Novak added that the NAIA has made its best effort to include transgender athletes in a way that does not impact women’s sports’ competitive fairness. The priority is to maintain the integrity of women’s athletics and give them equal opportunities to succeed.

“Our priority is to protect the integrity of women’s athletics and allow them equal opportunity to succeed,” she continued in the CBS Sports article.

NAIA is a national athletic governing body for 249 mostly small, private colleges that do not participate in NCAA competition. In 1953, the NAIA became the first collegiate athletics association to invite historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) into membership. Out of 105 designated HBCUs, 22 are members of the NAIA.

22 HBCUS Under NAIA Membership:


“We know there are a lot of different opinions out there,” NAIA president Jim Carr told CBS Sports.

“For us, we believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA. … We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created. You’re allowed to have separate, but equal opportunities for women to compete.”

Jim Carr, NAIA President

The new policy of NAIA prohibits student-athletes who were assigned female but have started masculinizing hormone therapy to transition to women from participating in women’s sports. However, the policy allows all NAIA athletes no longer eligible for women’s competition to participate in men’s sports.

“It’s important to know that the male sports are open to anyone,” Carr told CBS Sports.


Below is the complete policy, as released by NAIA on Monday:

Student-athletes may participate in the NAIA competition under the following conditions:


  • Participation by students in sports designated as male by the NAIA:
All eligible NAIA student-athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports.

  • Participation by students in sports designated as female by the NAIA:
Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports. They may participate under the following conditions:
    • A student who has not begun any masculinizing hormone therapy may participate without limitation.
      A student who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy may participate in:
    • All activities internal to the institution (do not include external competition), including workouts, practices, and team activities. Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled; and

  • External competition is not a countable contest as defined by the NAIA (per NAC Policy Article XXV, Section A, Item 12). Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled.

  • An NAIA institution that has a student-athlete who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy must notify the NAIA national office. The national office will take the necessary steps to provide appropriate privacy protections.

This policy will undergo periodic review to incorporate new legal, scientific, or medical developments.



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