Bill on transgender athletes could lead to big financial loss for Wichita, State of Kansas

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The City of Wichita and the State of Kansas could lose out on millions of dollars if the NCAA sticks with its comments supporting transgender student-athletes. A bill passed by the Kansas legislature bans transgender athletes from competing in girls’ or women’s sports in the state.

The NCAA said it is grounded in values of inclusion and fair competition and has a policy that requires testosterone-suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports.

Wichita hosted parts of the NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2018, but according to Mayor Brandon Whipple, the city could lose $7.5 million if it loses its chance at hosting the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament next year and the men’s tournament again in 2025.

“We’re talking millions of dollars that we would lose if this bill becomes law,” Whipple said. “Just think about the ripple effect that this would have on our small businesses in and around downtown, those who depend on this type of economic stimulus to really build back.”

The NCAA issued a statement saying it supports “the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” That statement goes on to say, when determining where championships are held, it selections locations that are safe, healthy and free of discrimination. A proponent of the bill passed in Kansas related to transgender student-athletes claims the NCAA is selective on when it chooses to comply.

“What they fall behind on is compliance for male sports. And what they continue to ignore is Title IX compliance for female sports,” said Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Republican for District 37, covering parts of Miami and Johnson counties. “They have been very selective in what issues they decided to pick and choose.”

The bill in Kansas requires female athletic teams in the state to only include females biological at birth. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a statement staying, “We don’t bring in a record amount of capital investment to Kansas by antagonizing businesses. I’m going to support bills that bring jobs to Kansas and oppose bills that drive businesses away.”

Whipple said he hopes Wichita doesn’t lose its chance at hosting games for NCAA tournaments. The Wichita Area Sports Commission said it hasn’t established a formal position on the matter and how it could impact its organization and the surrounding area. The bill concerning transgender student-athletes remains on Kelly’s desk.

Senator Baumgardner said she expects some sort of decision from the governor next week.

According to the Wichita Area Sports Commission, Kansas is prepared to host the following NCAA championship events over the next five academic years:

  • March 2022 – D2 M/W Indoor Track & Field, Pittsburg, KS
  • March 2022 – D1 Women’s Basketball Regional, Wichita, KS
  • March 2024 – D2 M/W Indoor Track & Field, Pittsburg, KS
  • March 2024 – D2 Men’s Wrestling, Park City, KS
  • May 2024 – D2 M/W Outdoor Track & Field, Emporia, KS
  • March 2025 – D1 Men’s Basketball 1st/2nd rounds, Wichita, KS
  • May 2026 – D2 M/W Outdoor Track & Field, Emporia, KS

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