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Kentucky Swimming Star Slams Pennsylvania’s Nomination of Trans Athlete Lia Thomas for NCAA’s Woman of the Year Award

SportsKentucky Swimming Star Slams Pennsylvania's Nomination of Trans Athlete Lia Thomas for NCAA's Woman of the Year Award

Lia Thomas was the first trans woman to win titles at the Ivy League and NCAA championships.

However, her swimming ability sparked controversy about whether transgender women should compete against biological women. 

On Friday, Riley Gaines, a Kentucky swimmer, criticized the University of Pennsylvania’s nomination of Thomas for NCAA’s Woman of the Year award, Fox News reported.

Gaines stated that the NCAA is making college sports’ highest honor “worthless.”

“Being the real girl in that photo and also University of Kentucky’s nominee for NCAA WOTY, 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,” she tweeted a response to Outkick founder Clay Travis. “The @NCAA has made this award worthless.

“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.”

After her swimming career, UK nominated Gaines for NCAA Woman of the Year.

She won three SEC individual titles, broke two SEC records, and received 12 All-America awards. She even graduated as summa cum laude.

At this year’s NCAA championships, she finished behind Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle.

“This award recognizes not only athletic performance but also academics, service, and character, so to be thought of as someone who embodies all of those things is extremely humbling,” Gaines said in a news release on the school’s athletics website.

“I’m aware I was up against a department full of amazing female student-athletes, so I’m very grateful and always proud to be a Wildcat. I have so much love for UK and Big Blue Nation,” she added.

Each NCAA institution chooses a Woman of the Year. Each conference analyzes its member schools’ nominations and sends the NCAA its nominee. 

A committee will consider independent and non-conference nominees.

The organization then picks the top 30 and three finalists from each group. The NCAA will pick a winner from these nine teams.

Thomas’ nomination comes after FINA approved new transgender swimmer policies.

According to the new “gender inclusion policy,” only swimmers who changed genders before 12 years old can compete in women’s events.


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