The NCAA stated this week that it will stage future championship competitions in environments free of transgender discrimination, which has Chattanooga in danger of losing multiple events that have been lined up for the years ahead.
Chattanooga is scheduled to host the Division III men's and women's tennis championship tournaments at the Champions Tennis Club on May 24-30.
"This potentially puts a lot of what we have secured with the NCAA at risk," Tim Morgan, the chief officer of Chattanooga Sports, said Thursday. "My understanding is that they are not addressing this immediately, but it will be happening here in the future. To be honest, all of this is in the beginning stages, and no one from the NCAA has talked to us about their position.
"We really don't know what will happen in the future."
Morgan estimates the Division III tennis tournaments, which were moved in March from Claremont, California, due to COVID-19 restrictions, will have a $1.1 million economic impact.
On Monday, the NCAA's Board of Governors stated on its website that it "firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports." The governing body added that it "embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee."
The statement concluded with the NCAA's stance on championship sites.
"When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected," the NCAA stated. "We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants."
In March, Tennessee House lawmakers passed a bill by a 71-16 margin banning transgender athletes from competing in female sports. Arkansas and Mississippi had previously passed similar bans.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law on March 26, posting on Twitter, "This legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX, and I commend members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan work."
Morgan and Chattanooga Sports, which is a Division of Chattanooga Tourism Co., have landed the Division II softball championship tournament at Frost Stadium for May of 2023, 2025 and 2026. CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge is scheduled to house the Division II men's and women's soccer championship tournaments in December of 2023 and 2024, and Division III tennis is scheduled to return in 2026.
Yet the events of this week only has Morgan feeling assured about the tournaments of next month.
"I feel pretty good about those," he said. "They've signed a contract and are making arrangements."