NCAA gender equity review says NCAA failed to live up to commitment of diversity

·3 min read

The NCAA has failed to adequately support women's basketball. A 113-page report from Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP on Tuesday revealed the NCAA has "has not lived up to its stated commitment to ‘diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators,’” according to the Washington Post. 

Following complaints of unequal accommodations at the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments, the NCAA agreed to launch an independent review of the situation. The association hired Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP in March, and the law firm delivered its findings Tuesday.

As part of the report, Kaplan recommends the men and women's tournaments be held at the same site, and that schools have incentives to improve their women's basketball programs. 

In addition to that, the law firm took the NCAA to task for normalizing and perpetuating gender equalities. The report said the NCAA is designed to "maximize the value of and support to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship." 

The law firm also projected a massive increase in revenue for the women's tournament — which could be worth "between $81 and $112 million annually beginning in 2025," according to the Washington Post. The report said the NCAA has failed to recognize or prepare for that growth, instead only focusing on and prioritizing the men's tournament. 

NCAA Board of Governors acknowledges inequality

The NCAA Board of Governors responded to the report Tuesday. In a statement, the Board of Governors said it urged NCAA president Mark Emmert to"act urgently to address any organizational issues."

"The NCAA Board of Governors is wholly committed to an equitable experience among its championships. We know that has not always been the case and the instance of the Division I Women's Basketball Championship is an important impetus for us to improve our championship experience so it is not repeated. This report provides useful guidance to improve our championships. We have directed the NCAA president to act urgently to address any organizational issues. We have also called him to begin work this week with the three divisions and appropriate committees to outline next steps, develop recommendations and effectuate change. We will continue to review and process the recommendations in the gender equity report as we move forward to strengthen championships for all student-athletes."

Women's tournament weight rooms went viral

Inequalities between the tournaments went viral in March after Oregon player Sedona Prince tweeted out a video comparing the weight room at the men's tournament to the weight room at the women's tournament. 

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Prince wasn't the only person to point out that disparity, but her tweet brought massive attention to the issue. In addition to Prince's tweet, there were reports women were "only eating the snacks they brought" due to the poor food options at the tournament. UConn coach Geno Auriemma also claimed the women were being given different COVID-19 tests than the men. 

Both tournaments were held in different locations in March. The men's tournament took place in Indianapolis. The women's tournament occurred in San Antonio.

NCAA logo on basketball court.
The NCAA has prioritized the men's basketball tournament over the women's tournament, according to a report. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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