NCAA faces backlash after biological male Lia Thomas nominated for 'Woman of the Year' award

"First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The @NCAA has made this award worthless," University of Kentucky athlete Riley Gaines said.

Joshua Young Youngsville North Carolina

Criticism is mounting against the nomination of biological male Lia Thomas for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 2022 "Woman of the Year" award.

The Daily Mail reports that women athletes ranging from tennis legend Martina Navratilova to NCAA University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines are coming forward to pillory the University of Pennsylvania's selection of Thomas over the many superlative biological women athletes who competed last year.

A school is typically allowed to nominate one graduating senior for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award and UPenn chose Thomas as their pick for the accolade. A school can nominate two people if one of the athletes is an international student or a "person of color."

On Twitter, Martina Navratilova wrote, "Not enough fabulous biological women athletes, NCAA?!? What is wrong with you?!!!!!!!?"

University of Kentucky's "Woman of the Year" nominee Riley Gaines tweeted that "this is yet another slap in the face to women. First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The @NCAA has made this award worthless."

In March, Gaines tied Thomas for fifth place in the women's 200-meter NCAA championships and in the ceremonies after NCAA officials placed Thomas ahead of Gains on the podium, despite the two tying. The NCAA officials casually told Gaines, "we only have one fifth place trophy, so yours will be coming in the mail."

Criticism against Thomas' competing with women has surfaced in the past but often anonymously. In March a Virginia Tech swimmer said "It's a common conception that we are all very disappointed and frustrated with someone who is -  has capabilities more than us women have to be able to compete at this level and take opportunities away from other women."

Also in March, a swimmer's mother said more women would speak out but that they were  "frightened. They're frightened of losing friends. They're frightened of being kicked off their teams. They're frightened of being told by their universities that they're transphobic and hateful."

An anonymous teammate of Thomas' said something similar to The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh in his hit documentary "What Is A Woman?"

"They've made it pretty clear, if you speak up about it, your life will be over in some way, you'll be blasted all over the internet as a 'transphobe," the woman said.

More visible critics have emerged after the NCAA nomination, many of them taking to Twitter, such as former NCAA champion swimmer Marshi Smith who asked, "How many women's awards are we willing to surrender?"

In another tweet Gaines wrote, "This award combines athletic performance with academics, service, and character. What character has Thomas shown other than sheer selfishness and entitlement? The disrespect and disregard for the other female athletes in Thomas' interviews is eye opening."

Thomas has said that the Olympics are the swimmer's goal in multiple media interviews.

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