Coach Of Top Women’s College Basketball Team Says Men Should Play Against Females ‘If You Consider Yourself A Woman’
CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 05: Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks speaks with the media after beating the NC State Wolfpack 78-59 the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 05, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Dawn Staley, the head coach of the undefeated South Carolina women’s basketball team, said on Saturday that trans-identifying players should be allowed to participate against women as long as they “consider” themselves to be “a woman.”

Staley made her comments on men competing in women’s sports following the Gamecocks’ blowout win in the Final Four over NC State. Asked by Outkick reporter Dan Zaksheske to explain her position on “the inclusion of transgender athletes, biological males, in women’s sports,” the coach struggled to come up with an answer before saying she supports men competing against women.

“If you’re a woman, you should play; if you consider yourself a woman, and you want to play sports, or vice-versa, you should be able to play,” Staley said. “That’s my opinion.”

Zaksheske asked her to clarify if she believes trans-identifying men should be able to compete against women.

“That’s the question you want to ask, so I’ll give you that: Yes. Yes,” she responded. “So now the barnstorm of people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me on one of the biggest days of our game, and I’m ok with that.”

South Carolina’s win against NC State on Friday puts them in the national championship game, where they will face Iowa and star player Caitlyn Clark, who defeated UConn in a nail-biter. Staley’s team is currently 37-0 on the season and has breezed through the NCAA tournament. Staley has coached at South Carolina since 2008 and has won two national championships while reaching six Final Fours. The national championship game is on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Staley’s comments have sparked backlash online, including from prominent women’s sports activist Riley Gaines. The former collegiate swimmer, who has been outspoken about the dangers and inherent unfairness of biological males participating in females’ sports, posted the video of Staley and cited The Daily Wire-produced satirical comedy film “Lady Ballers,” which was released in 2023 and lampoons men competing in women’s sports, specifically men competing against women in basketball.

Gaines had a cameo appearance in the film, which starred several Daily Wire personalities, including the company’s co-CEO and co-founder Jeremy Boreing and Daily Wire hosts Jake Crain, Blain Crain and David Cone.


While the controversy surrounding men playing in women’s sports has yet to directly affect Division I women’s college basketball, there have been numerous instances of men competing in sports against females and beating them in recent months. Earlier this year, multiple trans-identifying athletes took the floor with women in a college volleyball match in Ontario, Canada.

At Nazareth University in New York, trans-identifying track athlete Sadie Schreiner set a new school record in the 300m dash in December, clocking in at 41.80 seconds, which was also good for first place in the race. Schreiner reportedly competed in the same track event a year before as a male and finished in 19th place in the 100m dash.

Men competing in women’s sports became a major issue in 2022 when UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously competed as a male before identifying as a female, won a national championship title in the 500-yard freestyle over standout Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant.

The NCAA allows men to compete in women’s sports as long as they submit an “NCAA Transgender Student-Athlete Eligibility Review Form” and have a “testosterone level that is within the allowable levels for the sport in which the student-athlete plans to compete.”

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