ICON threatens NCAA with discrimination suit

January 16, 2023 | Sports

Washington, DC — The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been put on notice with a demand letter issued on behalf of the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), which seeks to stop the sex discrimination faced by female athletes. 

ICONS is a global non-profit network of eminent athletes and coaches, experts, parents, and concerned citizens advocating for fairness and safety in women’s sports during the steady rise of biological male athletes entering women’s competition categories worldwide.

“In the world of college sports, it is impossible to provide equal opportunities for both sexes as required by Title IX without female-only teams,” the letter reads. “Yet the NCAA implements and perpetuates a policy of allowing male athletes on women’s teams, even as sports governing bodies and federal courts increasingly reject these unjust and inequitable policies that exclude young women from their own teams.”

Along with a rally, “Tell the NCAA: Stop Discriminating Against Female Athletes” — organized by a broad coalition of more than a dozen organizations — the legal letter from ICONS, drawn up by Wisconsin-based law firm Jackson Bone, LLP, was delivered Jan. 12 to the NCAA Office of Legal Affairs during the 2023 NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. “We hereby demand that you take direct and immediate action to establish rules to keep women’s collegiate sports female,” the letter states, while outlining the NCAA’s discriminatory policies and practices that violate state and federal law.

“The NCAA cannot pick and choose which laws to follow,” says Marshi Smith, an NCAA Champion and co-founder of ICONS. “They must protect female athletes from discrimination on the basis of sex, or expect we will be forced to take legal steps to compel them to do so.”

To avoid legal action, ICONS is asking the NCAA to comply with U.S. civil rights law immediately by:

repealing all policies and rules that allow male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and/or compete in women’s events; establishing and enforcing rules to keep women’s sports female; and requiring colleges to provide single-sex locker rooms for female athletes.

“We want to send a message to the NCAA that we are mobilizing to defend the rights of women and girls,” says ICONS co-founder Kim Jones, an All-American and Pac-10 Champion. “We are thousands of athletes strong and we stand alongside parents, lawmakers, and organizations across the political spectrum. The NCAA has adopted discriminatory policies and broken the law, intentionally treating women and girls unjustly.”

The demand letter is endorsed by numerous organizations including Women’s Liberation Front, Independent Women’s Forum, Women’s Declaration International USA, Alliance Defending Freedom, Champion Women, Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, Concerned Women for America, International Consortium on Female Sport, and more.

To support the NCAA convention rally and sign a petition to stop discrimination against female athletes at https://www.iconswomen.com/ncaa-petition/. Donations can be made to https://donorbox.org/independent-council-on-women-s-sports.