NAIA bans transgender athletes from women’s sports competitions

"2022 NAIA Men's Basketball National Champions" banner hangs from lamp post at Louise C. Thomas Hall at Loyola University

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the governing body for mostly small colleges, announced on Monday that athletes in the NAIA will only be allowed to compete in women’s sports if they were assigned the female gender at birth — all but banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote Monday morning after a December survey indicated widespread support for the move. The association’s previous policy only applied to postseason competition. The new directive applies to all NAIA competitions.

The NAIA oversees some 83,000 athletes at 249 mostly small colleges across the country that are not part of the NCAA’s three divisions of competition, with a membership that is 80% private schools. This decision does not apply to NCAA competitions; and is believed to be the first college sports organization to take such a step.

According to the transgender participation policy, all athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports but only athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth is female and who have not begun hormone therapy will be allowed to participate in women’s sports.

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

Editorial credit: William A. Morgan /