Producers of Wednesday's The ESPYs have broken their silence on their decision to award Caitlyn Jenner this year's Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Jenner debuted last month on the cover of Vanity Fair.

NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas was among those critical of the decision to honor Jenner, calling it a “crass exploitation play.”

“In the broad world of sports – and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner – I am pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively [being] involved in sports who would have been deserving of what that award represents,” he said.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Maura Mandt, a longtime co-producer of The ESPYs, defended the decision.

“I think Caitlyn's decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,” Mandt said.

“Bruce Jenner could have easily gone off into the sunset as this American hero and never dealt with this publicly,” she added.

The show's producers also said that the award is an opportunity to educate the public about transgender issues.

The ESPYs will take place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on ABC.