Independent Council On Women’s Sports Funds Landmark Lawsuit Against NCAA to Uphold Fairness in Women’s Sports

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“It’s about preserving the legacy of Title IX and ensuring that the future of women’s sports is as bright as its past,” said ICONS Co-Founder Marshi Smith

Washington, DC, March 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LAS VEGAS (March 14, 2024) — The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) has announced exclusive funding support for a critical lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The lawsuit on behalf of 16 former and current female collegiate athletes includes Riley Gaines (Swimmer, Gallatin, TN), Reka Gyorgy (Swimmer, Blacksburg, VA), Kylee Alons (Swimmer, Raleigh, NC), Kaitlyn Wheeler (Swimmer, Springfield, IL), Ainsley Erzen (Track and Soccer, Des Moines, IA), Ellie Eades (Tennis, Floyds Knobs, IN), Lily Mullens (Swimmer, North Canton, OH), Susanna Price (Track & Field, Swimmer, Los Alamos, NM), Carter Satterfield (Swimmer, Cary, NC), Kate Pearson (Swimmer, Virginia Beach, VA), Katie Blankinship (Swimmer, Woodstock, GA), Julianna Morrow (Swimmer, Mooresville, NC), and four other athletes proceeding under pseudonyms to protect them from retaliation and reprisal.

“This lawsuit against the NCAA isn’t just about competition; it’s a fight for the very essence of women’s sports,” said ICONS Co-Founder Marshi Smith, a collegiate All-American and NCAA national champion swimmer. “We’re standing up for justice and the rights of female athletes to compete on a level playing field. It’s about preserving the legacy of Title IX and ensuring that the future of women’s sports is as bright as its past.”

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The athletes are challenging NCAA regulations allowing male athletes to compete in women’s sports. This suit follows in the wake of a legal demand letter, sent by ICONS in 2023.The lawsuit seeks to change the NCAA’s policies that allow male athletes who identify as transgender to participate in women’s sports. The plaintiffs, representing a broad coalition of female athletes across multiple sports, argue the NCAA’s regulations compromise the fairness and integrity of women’s competitive sports and discriminate against women, violating Title IX’s core principles.

“We’re not just fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting for every young girl who dreams of competing in sports,” said Riley Gaines. “I’m thankful for ICONS’ commitment to our cause, especially their financial commitment allowing us to take this to court. I urge anyone who cares about protecting women’s sport to help get behind us.”

The lawsuit’s lead attorney, former United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) General Counsel Bill Bock, resigned from the NCAA Committee on Infractions in February 2024 over their regulations permitting men to compete in women’s athletics. With the support of motivated donors across the country, ICONS is fully committed to funding the lawsuit, leveraging resources and networks to champion the rights of these athletes and all women in sports. ICONS leaders said this action is not merely about challenging policies, but affirming the value of women’s sports as a vital component of athletic competition and women’s equality.

“By challenging the NCAA’s draconian and discriminatory policies, we’re sending a clear message: the integrity of women’s sports is non-negotiable,” said ICONS Co-Founder Kim Jones, who is a collegiate tennis All-American and former U.S. National Team member. “We are committed to defending the hard-won rights of women athletes everywhere. This isn’t just a legal battle; it’s a moral stand for equality and justice in sports.”

“This lawsuit sends a message loud and clear that women will fight for the pillars of fairness and equal opportunity. We need to preserve those principles,” said swimmer Reka Gyorgy. “We must take this opportunity to protect our future.”

ICONS represents a powerful and expansive network of advocates, including current and former collegiate and professional female athletes, alongside their families and a vast circle of supporters. The nonpartisan organization stands firm in the belief that women should excel and prosper in the sporting world, free from any discrimination based on sex. ICONS asserts female athletes are entitled to the same respect and opportunities for fair competition as their male counterparts.

“The NCAA has put women in an impossible situation both in competition and in the locker room. I don’t want another woman to be exposed to the same situation I faced,” said swimmer Kylee Alons. “This lawsuit is our stand for what’s right, ensuring that the achievements of female athletes are celebrated and respected on an equal playing field. I am glad to be a part of this.”

ICONS further aims to uplift and strengthen female athletes in sports and beyond, while championing their rights and achievements across all arenas. ICONS works directly with female athletes, lawmakers, and governing bodies to defend the respect and fair treatment of women in sports.

“The support from ICONS has been a beacon of hope,” said swimmer Susanna Price, as the litigating athletes expressed their gratitude.

“The NCAA needs to change their policies now. I would like to call upon people in positions of leadership to make sure no woman or young girl believes her chance to play doesn’t matter. Her chance matters and I feel I must stand up for that. I’m grateful to all the women participating,” added swimmer Lily Mullens.

ICONS is calling on people from around the world who care about fair play and women’s rights to join this effort to protect the women’s sports category. As the funding organization, every donation to the ICONS athlete legal fund will go directly toward the NCAA lawsuit, and other legal expenses defending women’s sports.

You can learn more about ICONS at www.iconswomen.com, and support the NCAA lawsuit at www.TakeOnTheNCAA.com where you can read the full complaint.

Media and press inquiries can be sent to [email protected].

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CONTACT: Marshi Smith Independent Council on Women's Sports 702-323-4516 [email protected] 

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