The University of Pennsylvania nominated swimmer Lia Thomas for the NCAA “Woman of the Year” award.
According to an announcement from the NCAA, the University of Pennsylvania nominated the transgender athlete for the award, which recognizes female student-athletes.
“Established in 1991, the award recognizes female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers,” the NCAA nomination page reads.
NCAA member schools “are encouraged to celebrate their top graduating female student-athletes by nominating them for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award,” the announcement reads.
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After member schools make their nominations, their conference can then select up to two nominees.
Thomas, a former swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, won the 500-yard freestyle event at the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday.
Her participation in college women’s swimming has brought on a national debate, with some saying that she has an unfair advantage over other athletes.
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Riley Gaines, a swimmer at the University of Kentucky who tied with Lia Thomas for fifth place at the NCAA swimming championships, said that a majority of females aren’t okay with the trajectory of female sports.
“The majority of us female athletes, or females in general, really, are not okay with this, and they’re not okay with the trajectory of this and how this is going and how it could end up in a few years,” Gaines said on the “Unmuted with Marsha” podcast with Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
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She was referring to the NCAA’s refusal to change the rules in order to protect competitiveness in female sports.
The University of Pennsylvania also nominated Iuliia Bryzgalova for the award, who plays tennis at the school.