Milligan University responds to NAIA’s transgender athletes policy

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Milligan University has voiced approval for a decision made by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Monday that all but bans transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents unanimously approved the policy to allow only athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth is female to compete and have not begun hormone therapy to take part in women’s sports.

NAIA all but bans transgender athletes from women’s sports. NCAA vows to ensure ‘fair competition’

Transgender athletes may still compete in men’s sports under the policy. Student-athletes who have started hormone therapy can still be part of a women’s team’s activities and workouts but may not compete.

Milligan University, an NAIA institution, released a statement Monday evening on the council’s decision. Milligan Athletic Director Christian Pope said the policy followed lengthy research into the topic and would help ensure balance for the roughly 83,000 competitors at NAIA schools.

“Today’s unanimous decision by the NAIA’s Council of Presidents was the product of years of research and study into how best to ensure a competitive balance for the 83,000 male and female athletes competing across a wide variety of sports at NAIA-affiliated schools.  We appreciate the deliberate way the NAIA went about making this decision, and we believe it upholds the spirit of Title IX, which paved the way for women’s athletics to flourish at the collegiate level and beyond. We believe this decision will preserve a level playing field for our female athletes, and we thank the NAIA for allowing its faith-based members to continue to uphold our values and beliefs as we help our student-athletes build character through athletic competition.”

Christian Pope, Athletic Director, Milligan University

According to the Associated Press, there is no known number of transgender athletes competing in high schools and colleges. However, it is believed to be a small number.

The NCAA released its own statement on the NAIA policy, saying it would make sure to promote Title IX, invest in women’s sports and ensure fair competition in its championships.

The NAIA primarily governs small schools similar to Milligan in size. There are nine NAIA schools in Tennessee and only one in Virginia, Bluefield University.

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