Will Thomas – who identifies as a female and wants to be called Lia – has been dominating female swimmers in the sport. Former Auburn swimmer Maggie Bowen recently told "Fox & Friends" the nomination is disappointing and concerning for those close to the sport.
"It's unfair," Bowen stated. "You don't like to use the words like disgraceful or making a joke of something that's a really big deal to a lot of people, and that's effectively what they've done."
Bowen – a 21-time All-American swimmer at Auburn – went on to voice her disappointment that Penn is not impressed with any of their current female student athletes.
"They are more impressed with a male-bodied athlete competing and beating females in their sport," said Bowen. "I personally don't find that impressive."
Steve McConkey of 4 Winds USA has similar comments.
"There's far more women that are qualified," he tells AFN. "[Thomas] definitely is not a woman, and Americans are opposed to transgender athletes, according to polls."
A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in May 2022, for example, found that 55% of Americans are opposed to allowing so-called transgender women and girls to compete with women and girls in high school sports. 58% are opposed to it for college and professional sports.
Polls from Rasmussen Reports also find a majority of Americans are opposed to biological males participating in female sports.
"The NCAA Woman of the Year panel will pick 30 honorees before revealing nine finalists," says PennLive.com. "In January, the winner of the Woman of the Year award will be announced at the NCAA convention in San Antonio, Texas."