Lia Thomas won an NCAA Division I title last week, but not according to Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor on Tuesday signed a proclamation declaring second-place winner Emma Weyant, who grew up and graduated from high school in Florida before going on to swim for the University of Virginia, the "rightful winner" of the NCAA 500-yard women's freestyle swimming championship event. Thomas is transgender, and her swimming achievements have thus become the subject of controversy; DeSantis last year signed legislation barring transgender athletes from participating in women's high school or college sports in the state, USA Today reports.
"Florida rejects the NCAA's efforts to destroy women's athletics, disapproves of the NCAA elevating ideology over biology, and takes offense at the NCAA trying to make others complicit in a lie," DeSantis said in his proclamation. "Since she is a native Floridian from Sarasota, I, Ron DeSantis, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby declare in Florida that Emma Weyant is the rightful winner of the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's 500-yard Freestyle." It's not clear whether Weyant has yet weighed in on the controversy, but SwimSwam reported last week that the third- and fourth-place finishers in the event have both publicly supported Thomas. DeSantis also said Tuesday he would soon sign the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill; Disney employees that day staged a walkout to protest the bill. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)