NCAA’s Gender Gap Driven by March Madness

NS NCAAFinancial reliance on Division I men’s basketball has long fueled gender disparities in college sports, investigators said in a report Tuesday. in a report Tuesday, as they challenged the association to overhaul its approach to two of America’s most famous events.

The more than 100-page report said: “The NCAA’s broadcast agreements, corporate sponsorship agreements, revenue distribution, organizational structure, and culture all prioritize Division I men’s basketball over Division I men’s basketball. everything else in a way that creates, normalizes, and perpetuates gender inequality. “At the same time, the NCAA has no structure or system in place to identify, prevent, or address such inequities.”

An assessment prepared by civil rights advocate Roberta A. Kaplan and her law firm also found that the NCAA earns far less than it earns from television rights to the women’s basketball tournament. An analysis, conducted as part of the review, predicts that the women’s basketball league broadcasting contract will be worth at least $85 million a year by 2025. According to a contract that has finally been put in place marketed 20 years ago and with no “material renegotiation” value since its renewal a decade ago, the NCAA now values ​​the women’s tournament’s television rights at less than $6 million a year.

Tuesday’s report is a remarkable, detailed and widely anticipated calculation for the NCAA, which has spent years celebrating its commitment to women’s athletics. But the report detailed one after another and, more importantly, for the future of the association, the contracts that made the NCAA a financial force that contributed to a pattern of grievances. how equal.

“I don’t think you can sweep this under the rug,” said Tara VanDerveer, who coached the Stanford women’s team to this year’s national championship.

“I don’t think you can say this is a one-off,” she added as she commended the scope of the report. “I think we have reached the benchmark.”

The association’s board of directors, which received brief notice of the investigation Tuesday afternoon, said in a statement that the report “provides useful guidance for improving our championship.” and it directed the NCAA president, Mark Emmert, “to act urgently to address any Organizational Issues.”

The NCAA, which has faced years of calls for change in women’s basketball, entrust the investigation in March, when it faced a disturbance The difference between this year’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Players in the men’s division, the 67-game competition that is the financial lifeline of the NCAA thanks to a television deal worth more than $850 million this year, traveled to Indiana to find the facilities fully-stocked. and the full marketability of the March Madness brand.

But in Texas, where the association is hosting this year’s women’s tournament, the players initially had few practice areas and the venues were so cramped that a top coach suggested they resembled gymnasts. venue for high school games.

The result was a fierce outcry that led to spearheading accusations against the NCAA – namely, that the organization supported the men’s league with so many resources that it helped starve the women’s game as a lead actor. in the national discourse – which sometimes overshadows one of the most glorious tournaments of the year for college athletics.

The association’s decision to hire Kaplan came only after Emmert dismissed concerns players and coaches had raised in interviews and on social media. The complaints quickly became a crisis for the association, and Emmert, whose contract was extended while the review was underway, at the time pledged that the NCAA would be “aggressive.” address physical and impact differences” between basketball competitions. Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in most educational settings, does not apply to the NCAA

Even as it noted “deep distrust in the NCAA’s readiness and ability” to make significant changes, the Kaplan report made more than two dozen recommendations, including organizing Men’s and Women’s Finals in the same city; reworked the NCAA’s organizational chart to oversee basketball; and essentially restarting the budgeting process for tournaments.

Connection admitted in March that they spent nearly twice their budget on their men’s basketball tournament in 2019 than they planned for the women’s competition. NCAA executives assert that the $13.5 million gap can be attributed to significant differences in tournament formats and popularity.

In fact, according to the report, the NCAA has a spending gap of about $35 million. The report acknowledges that “gender equality doesn’t require equal budgets,” but it says that awareness that men’s basketball is “highly profitable and therefore worthy of investment has built a culture.” in the NCAA where men’s basketball is not subject to many of the same budget constraints as women’s basketball”.

For the 2021 tournaments, which differed from their traditional format because of the coronavirus pandemic, investigators found that NCAA executives felt that the men’s tournament was a priority for survival. organization after it had to cancel competitions in 2020 and fall into a financial emergency. “Fundamental differences in opinion about the relative importance of the 2021 men’s and women’s championships led to the gender disparity early in the planning process,” the investigators wrote.

The organizers of the men’s tournament, for example, were allowed to announce plans to conduct the competition on November 16, 2020, investigators said. But executives did not allow the organizers of the women’s tournament to make similar timing announcements because they would first have to consider the financial costs of hosting the competition.

The men’s league does not face such scrutiny, the report said.

When the men went to Indiana and the women went to Texas for their tournament, investigators said, they had very different experiences. The quality of the food varies considerably, as does the player lounge and the gift bags provided to the participants. (The NCAA spent $125.55 per player in the first and second rounds of the men’s tournament as gifts; the association spent $60.42 per player in the first rounds of the tournament. women’s match).

And investigators found that tournament organizers spent more resources promoting the 2021 men’s tournament.

But the problems that drag on the women’s league are often years in the making, Kaplan’s team found. For example, the NCAA’s revenue distribution system relies heavily on performance in the men’s championships, but does not consider performance in the women’s championships, providing less incentive for colleges to invest in programs. their women’s basketball.

And the NCAA cashed in on a corporate sponsorship deal that generated significant revenue for men’s Division I basketball. The system, the investigators wrote, required a potential sponsor to agree to assist. All NCAA championship events, closing opportunities for companies with smaller marketing budgets.

“There is no place for sponsors who may be interested in sponsoring women’s basketball but are unwilling or unable to purchase the advertising time needed to support men’s basketball,” the report said. They add that the media rights structure “contributes to the narrative that women’s basketball is a money loser and that men’s basketball needs to be prioritized in order to maximize revenue for the benefit of all players.” NCAA sport.”

The report also found that the existing TV deal for the women’s league has been a significant setback for women’s basketball. In an 88-page addendum to the report, a sports media outlet estimated that the women’s league alone could be worth more than $100 million a year, starting in 2025, when the current contract expired.

The NCAA said in March that a third-party consulting firm it hired had allocated 15.9% of its existing contract value to the women’s basketball league. That deal, which also includes many other NCAA championship events, is worth $500 million over 14 years.

In the meantime, the company said, the NCAA and media partners like CBS, Turner and ESPN can take steps to “preserve the premium value” of the men’s league while also supporting “the ongoing growth of the league.” custom” of the women’s tournament. Those options, the report said, include the use of the “March Madness” trademark for both tournaments.

“We were in an unproductive field,” says VanDerveer. “The men’s league has been plowed and fertilized, and so we are, let’s throw the seeds in there and see what develops. With vision and support from great universities and leadership, the women’s league could be so much better. I really hope. ” NCAA’s Gender Gap Driven by March Madness

John Verrall

John Verrall is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. John Verrall joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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