Lia Thomas’ NCAA Woman of the Year bid has come to an end, with the Ivy League selecting Columbia University fencer Sylvie Binder as its conference representative.
Senior from Armonk, New York, Binder was one of the 577 overall students named for this distinction back in April. She was also one of eight athletes nominated from The Ivy League.
Lia Thomas, a transgender woman and national champion swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania, was not selected.
“We are proud of Sylvie and all she has accomplished,” said Columbia head fencing coach Michael Aufrichtig in a statement. “She is a very deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”
“This is a great honor for our program,” he added.
Binder is the fourth Columbia student-athlete to be named Ivy League Woman of the Year, and the first since 2016. She will now be up for the national award, which will be announced on October 19.
The Ivy League’s decision to not select Thomas as its Woman of the Year has sparked a debate among students and athletes, with some saying that the conference should have chosen the Penn swimmer because she is a transgender woman.
“I am disappointed that the Ivy League did not select Lia Thomas as its Woman of the Year,” said Sarah Rheault, a former Columbia women’s fencing coach, in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“I think it is important to have trans representation in awards like this,” she added. “Lia is an incredible athlete and person, and I think she would have been a great representative for the conference.”
Others have argued that the Ivy League made the right decision in choosing Binder, saying that she is a more deserving candidate because she won an NCAA championship and had a successful fencing career at Columbia.
“Sylvie Binder is an amazing fencer and athlete,” said one student on Twitter. “Lia Thomas is also amazing but she didn’t win an NCAA championship.”
“The Ivy League made the right call,” another student said. “Lia Thomas is a great athlete but she didn’t achieve as much as Sylvie Binder.”
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