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NCAA leader’s callous indifference to female athletes on display at Senate hearing

In his first appearance on Capitol Hill as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Charlie Baker made one thing crystal clear: he has no intention of correcting the policies of the failed era of Mark Emmert, which have left female athletes, following gains of 50 years of Title IX, fighting to protect the future of women’s sports. 

The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee was called to examine pressing issues around athletes monetizing their name, image, and likeness (NIL) in collegiate sports, including whether athletes should be considered “employees” of universities. 

But that wasn’t the only issue on the table. Three months earlier, Riley Gaines, a University of Kentucky All-American swimmer, had testified before the same committee. 

Charlie Baker testifies before senate

Charlie Baker, president of the NCAA, arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Gaines described the NCAA’s exploitation of female athletes and failure to confront sex discrimination and harassment when allowing Lia Thomas, a natal male swimmer previously on the University of Pennsylvania men’s team, to suit up in the same locker room and steal a national title in NCAA Division I women’s swimming. 

Doreen Denny is Senior Director of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.

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