Lia Thomas nominated by University of Pennsylvania for NCAA ‘Woman of the Year’ award | Fox News

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The University of Pennsylvania nominated swimmer Lia Thomas for the NCAA “Woman of the Year” award.

According to an announcement from the NCAA, the University of Pennsylvania nominated the transgender athlete for the award, which recognizes female student-athletes.

“Established in 1991, the award recognizes female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers,” the NCAA nomination page reads.

NCAA member schools “are encouraged to celebrate their top graduating female student-athletes by nominating them for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award,” the announcement reads.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After member schools make their nominations, their conference can then select up to two nominees.

Thomas, a former swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, won the 500-yard freestyle event at the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday.

Her participation in college women’s swimming has brought on a national debate, with some saying that she has an unfair advantage over other athletes.

Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas waits for a preliminary heat in the Women’s NCAA 500 meter freestyle swimming championship start Thursday, March 17, 2022, in at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Riley Gaines, a swimmer at the University of Kentucky who tied with Lia Thomas for fifth place at the NCAA swimming championships, said that a majority of females aren’t okay with the trajectory of female sports.

“The majority of us female athletes, or females in general, really, are not okay with this, and they’re not okay with the trajectory of this and how this is going and how it could end up in a few years,” Gaines said on the “Unmuted with Marsha” podcast with Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

She was referring to the NCAA’s refusal to change the rules in order to protect competitiveness in female sports.

The University of Pennsylvania also nominated Iuliia Bryzgalova for the award, who plays tennis at the school.

Adam Sabes is a writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to and on Twitter @asabes10.