Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said at a press conference on Monday that she did not sign a bill passed in the state legislature because it was flawed and announced she is launching a nationwide coalition of stakeholders to push for preserving Title IX’s protection for female athletes.
Noem did not veto House Bill 1217, which was designed to protect female athletes from competing in sports with biological men who consider themselves transgender women but said she hopes lawmakers will fix some issues in the legislation that she said legal advisers have called “a trial lawyer’s dream.”
“Today we’re announcing that we’re forming a coalition – Defend Title IX Now dot com,” Noem said.
“Once we have enough states on board … big enough that the NCAA cannot possibly punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level.”
She said the coalition will include state leaders, athletes at all levels, and “everyone who cares about women’s sports.”
Some members of the coalition were at the press conference, in person or virtually, including Herschel Walker, former American football player, bobsledder, sprinter, and mixed martial artist.
Jack Brewer, former American football safety who played professionally in the National Football League for the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Arizona Cardinals, also spoke via video at the press conference.
“Women fought so hard for Title IX and I know that thousands of athletes around the country agree with me,” Brewer said. “Hopefully people around this country will rally around this cause. This coalition will do so much for young girls growing up who are pursuing their dreams in sports.”
Former LPGA champion Nancy Lopez is also on board and Noem said at least two governors — Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma and Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi — have signed on and more are expected to join.
High school athletes also expressed their support for the coalition and shared their dreams of going on to play — and win — in college.
Reporters at the conference tried to get Noem to say that her efforts were targeting transgender individuals, but she said the bill simply addresses protecting female athletes from unfair competition from biological men who have many physical advantages.
“Put simply it is fundamentally unfair for men to compete in women’s sports and it’s a violation of Title IX,” Noem said.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to email@example.com