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The NCAA is changing the policy for the participation of transgender athletes in the midst of calls for re-evaluation

The NCAA changed its policy regarding transgender athletes, it announced Wednesday.

The new approach to allowing transgender athletes will follow a sports-by-sports model similarly adopted by the U.S. and International Olympic Committees, Sports Illustrated reported.

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"We are steadfast in our support for transgender student-athletes and the promotion of justice across college sports," John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University and chairman of the NCAA board, said in a statement Wednesday announcing the change.

The new policy enters into force immediately.

NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis on March 12, 2020.

NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis on March 12, 2020. (Associated Press)

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The Governing Council voted to adopt the new policy as it "preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing justice, inclusion and security for all who compete," according to the report.

"It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences, and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, secure, and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy," DeGioia added.

The national governing body of each particular sport will be responsible for determining the participation of transgender athletes. If a sport does not have a national governing body, international federal policy will be adopted, Sports Illustrated reported.

Lia Thomas swims for Penn.

Lia Thomas swims for Penn. (Penn Athletics)

NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement saying the new policy brings collegiate sports closer to Olympic standards.

"About 80% of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes," Emmert said. "This policy adjustment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics."

NCAA rules came into the national spotlight due to the emergence of Penns Lia Thomas. She started beating Ivy League records with national records in the crosshairs. She was on the men’s team for her first three years, but started on the Quakers ’women’s team this season after the transition.

Her success this year ignited criticism over allowing transgender women to compete against biological women. Women's sports advocates and parents at Penn have recently spoken out against the NCAA and its rules on the participation of transgender students and athletes.

Thomas finished about two seconds ahead of his opponents with a time of 1: 48.73 in 200 freestyle. She missed setting an NCAA record held by Olympian Missy Franklin, who finished the event at 1: 39.10 in 2015. Thomas was not as dominant as she was at the Zippy Invitational in Akron last month.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers swims in the 500-yard freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and Dartmouth Big Green at the Sheerr Pool on campus at the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers swims in the 500-yard freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and Dartmouth Big Green at the Sheerr Pool on campus at the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Hunter Martin / Getty Images)

She faced a real challenge in 100 freestyle from Yales Iszac Henig, who is about to switch from woman to male. Henig had a time of 49.57 seconds, with Thomas finishing behind him with a time of 52.84 seconds.

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Henig, who is from California and has been competing for Yale since 2018, surprised the limited spectators for the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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