Suzanne Bowdey | The Washington Stand
For someone who’s been on the job for 10 months, NCAA President Charlie Baker certainly doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the important issues. While the biggest battle in modern sports boils over on campuses across the country, the former Massachusetts governor was shockingly blithe about the threat to girls’ teams and privacy in his latest trip to Congress.
In one of his many stops at the Capitol over his young tenure, Baker took another turn on the hotseat Thursday — this time in a House subcommittee. While there are plenty of heated debates in collegiate sports to keep the new boss busy, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) did manage to slip in questions about an issue that most families think is more pressing: the transgender takeover of their daughters’ locker rooms, scholarships, and teams.
To the disappointment of millions of athletes, Baker — who many thought would be an improvement over weak-kneed Mark Emmert — hasn’t distinguished himself at all from his successor. If anything, he’s been even more indifferent to the war raging over boys in girls’ spaces — choosing silence over engagement.
Twelve-time All-American Riley Gaines had hoped (wrongly, it turns out) that Baker would make combatting the erasure of women a priority in his administration. Instead, her requests for meetings and letters representing hundreds of girls have gone unanswered, an apathy Lesko refuses to tolerate. Reading portions of Gaines’s letter into the record, Lesko said, “Without single-sex competition, there can be no equal athletic opportunity,” she paused. “The NCAA knows this, yet it continues to propagate a policy that allows male athletes on women’s teams. We renew our demands to the governing body to repeal all policies and rules that allow male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and compete in women’s events,” she quoted from Gaines.
“My question to you, sir,” Lesko turned to Baker, “will you commit to meeting with the women athletes as requested in this letter?”
“Sure,” Baker replied nonchalantly.
“My next question is,” the congresswoman continued, “will the NCAA make the changes requested in this letter?”
Bristling, Baker fired back, “Just for your own information, every single NCAA championship, the host community and the host institution and the host organization under our current rules, is required to provide safe and secure accommodations to all athletes. And if the athletes are looking for specific solutions to deal with concerns that they have, they’re going to get them.”
As usual, that didn’t answer Lesko’s question or provide any reassurance that the former governor took their complaints seriously. Instead, he said vaguely, “We should never be in a position where we’re putting someone in a position where they feel they’re not safe, period. I can’t speak to what happened before I got here, but those are the rules as they stand right now.”
Bringing the conversation back to Gaines, Lesko pointed out that the former University of Kentucky swimmer hasn’t gotten a response to her inquiries — most recently at the 2024 National Collegiate Athletic Association Convention in Phoenix, where Gaines and other activists protested the sports’ body’s inaction. There, the swimmer hand-delivered another letter, explaining, “We feel as if our voices are not being heard. That is the objective, that is why we are here — that is why we are chanting. We want to be let into the conversation. So at any opportunity, at any chance to meet, we are happy and more than willing to work with you all on looking at what this looks like, how to uphold fairness and protect our rights to privacy and our rights to safety and our sports.”
“Nothing’s really changed,” Lesko pointed out. “Well,” Baker replied, “my first year, my primary objective was to do something nobody had ever done before in my job, which was to meet with all 97 conferences,” he said. “To get a sense about what the key issues and opportunities associated with college sports were. And I spent dozens of hours with student-athletes. … If folks want to have an open conversation about issues associated with college sports and with sports generally, we’ll figure out how to make that happen,” he said.
“I hope it happens soon,” Lesko admonished.
So do hundreds of female athletes — young women like Macy Petty, who’ve had to face-off with stronger, more powerful male opponents in the NCAA. While Macy wasn’t injured in her volleyball match, others haven’t been so lucky.
“There is big money in sports,” Petty told The Washington Stand. “Coaches get paid to win. And now we see where this leads,” the Young Women for America leader of Concerned Women for America (CWA), said. These controversies are “just a glimpse of what is to come if we don’t stop so-called ‘inclusion’ policies that discriminate against women,” she insisted. “The NCAA is forcing us to accept males in our locker rooms, increase our risk for injury, and now stealing our scholarships. As an NCAA athlete it’s a travesty to see how women are being railroaded by a trans-obsessed culture declaring men make better women athletes.”
Now, their one hope for change — Baker — has been “a year of steady disappointment,” CWA’s Doreen Denny laments. “[He] never hit the reset button, not even pause. He has only dodged and capitulated.” There’s been “no policy review, no apology, no course correction,” she wrote in frustration. “It proves he had no intention to lead, only to excuse himself.”
After hitting their collective heads against the brick wall of Emmert, “Now it’s Charlie Baker who owns the failures of where this trans inclusion policy was bound to lead,” Denny argued. He “hasn’t shown the courage or capacity to stand by science or fairness.” Unless something changes — and soon — his failure to stop a “destructive transgender inclusion policy … will [now] be his legacy fair and square.”
SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON STAND