The NCAA did not handle the 2021 Women’s Basketball Tournament with grace and is in more hot water as a result.
In a new report filed by civil rights attorneys at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the law firm declared that the NCAA prioritizes men’s college basketball “over everything else in ways that create, normalize and perpetuate gender inequities”, according to The Athletic. The review centered around the inequalities between the Men’s NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis this past March compared to the Women’s NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, of which there were plenty.
What does the NCAA need? New and competent leadership. Now. Gender equity report: NCAA prioritized men's basketball 'over everything else' https://t.co/8nulh7eVWU
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 3, 2021
The 113-page report indicates that the women’s tournament will be worth between $81 and $112 million annually by the time 2025 rolls around. Currently, the women’s tournament is packaged with 28 other NCAA Championships, which ESPN owns but only pays the NCAA $34 million per year through 2023-24.
“The gender inequities at the NCAA — and specifically within the NCAA Division I basketball championships — stem from the structure and systems of the NCAA itself, which are designed to maximize the value of and support to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship as the primary source of funding for the NCAA and its membership,” the report said, per The Athletic.
The report explains how the NCAA failed to consider the women’s tournament as its own standalone product, much like the men’s tournament has been. It later goes on to recommend that the men’s and women’s Final Fours be held in the same city, that the women should be allowed to use the “March Madness” trademark, and that real-time audits of each event should be released to the public. The report also adds that there should be financial incentives for schools to improve their women’s basketball programs, per ESPN.
“With respect to women’s basketball, the NCAA has not lived up to its stated commitment to ‘diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators,'” the report says.
What prompted the investigation stems from a clear lack of equality that was demonstrated at the men’s and women’s 2021 NCAA Tournaments. There were notable disparities in weight rooms, COVID-19 testing protocols, meals, signage, outdoor recreation, and the total overall number of staff members. The NCAA ordered the investigation after making public apologies surrounding the women’s tournament.