Hawley rips NCAA president’s ‘word salad’ response on transgender athlete policy

FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is ripping National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) president Charlie Baker’s “word salad” response to his letter seeking clarity on the organization’s transgender athlete policies.

Hawley sent a letter to Baker last month asking for the NCAA’s specific policy on transgender athletes’ access to locker rooms, after Baker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the future of college sports.

In his letter, Hawley asked Baker to provide a “comprehensive explanation” on NCAA policy regarding transgender athletes’ access to locker rooms, among other questions. Last week, Baker responded to Hawley in a letter the senator’s office shared Thursday with Fox News Digital.

Baker’s six-page response stated that lockers, changing rooms and bathroom options “specific for the sport and separately available to men and women are provided for each championship site. Specifically for the Division I Swimming and Diving Championships, single-person, gender-neutral options are also available for all participants.”

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“Host entities are expected to provide several components to support the administration of championships,” he wrote. “Further, a host entity’s local and/or campus regulations require adherence and may impact the administration of championships.”

“Regarding locker rooms, the NCAA and its host venues adhere to applicable local, state and federal laws regarding access to facilities,” Baker added.

Hawley’s letter also asked Baker whether the NCAA had ever “mandated, recommended or otherwise advised that individuals opposing the league’s policies on transgender athletes receive counseling or other educational interventions.”

“Not to our knowledge,” Baker replied. “NCAA legislation states that each member school must have in place mental health services and policies consistent with NCAA Mental Health Best Practices. Within that context, all student-athletes who have mental health symptoms or disorders must be provided access to counseling or other educational interventions as appropriate, and utilizing those services has always been and will continue to be voluntary.”

In a statement Thursday to Fox News Digital, Hawley described Baker’s response as “meaningless word-salad.”

“Whether in a hearing or letter, Charlie Baker and the NCAA can’t give a straight answer about biological men competing in women’s sports,” Hawley said. “And until they do, I’ll keep demanding the NCAA provide an explanation that isn’t meaningless word-salad. Female athletes deserve better.”

The NCAA did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment Thursday.

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Baker, the former governor of Massachusetts who replaced former NCAA President Mark Emmert in March, distanced himself from his predecessor’s policies related to transgender athletes during his testimony last month.

Baker had faced repeated questions about the participation of transgender athletes in women’s sports, citing examples of former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines’ experience during the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. 

Gaines had said in previous testimony that she was unfairly treated by the NCAA and forced to share a locker room with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

“I’m not going to defend what happened in 2022,” Baker said in his testimony.

“I wasn’t there. I was still governor of the commonwealth. What I will say is, we have very specific rules and standards around the safety and security of all our student-athletes, and anyone who hosts one of our national championships has to accept that they know what they are and then abide by them accordingly,” he said.

Baker added that the “rules around transgender athletes generally are more restrictive today than they were in ‘22.”

Fox News’ Joe Morgan, Lindsay Kornick and Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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