The NCAA has made headlines once again for perpetuating gender inequalities within their sports, especially when it comes to the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Basketball Championships. When analyzed by a law firm, it was found that the NCAA prioritized the Men’s March Madness Tournament, while undervaluing the women’s tournament by tens of millions of dollars.
The hiring of the Kaplan Firm to analyze gender inequalities at these championships was a response to the national uproar that followed Sedona Prince, a female competing for the University of Oregon at the NCAA championships, posting to Tik Tok the clear inequalities between the men and women events. This included drastically inferior weight room setups, meal differences, and overall funding.
In the 118 page report posted on August 2nd, 2021, the Kaplan Firm detailed how the NCAA female and male teams differently based on their revenue, but it was revealed that the NCAA also limits the amount of money the female sports have been able to bring in more specifically women’s basketball.
"The NCAA's broadcast agreements, corporate sponsorship contracts, distribution of revenue, organizational structure and culture all prioritize Division I men's basketball over everything else in ways that create, normalize and perpetuate gender inequities," according to the report.
Some of these inequities previously mentioned have drastically prevented women’s basketball from bringing in the revenue that men’s basketball could earn. A major profit that women’s basketball has been limited to for a long time is the media-rights fees. It is estimated that the women’s basketball tournament alone could be worth $100 million in these fees by 2025, but this year the tournament was bundled with 28 other sports championships and sold to ESPN for only $34 million for the year.
As explained in the report, there has been a "significant undervaluation" to "the growing popularity of women's basketball, a changing media landscape, and the fact that the championship's media rights have not been up for competitive bid in nearly two decades."
With the push for equality between women’s and men’s sports, a suggestion in this situation is to market the broadcasting rights to women’s basketball as a stand-alone property instead of bundling it with 28 other collegiate sports. Another suggestion from the firm is to allow the women’s tournament to start using the well-known term “March Madness” in the name of their championship tournament, something that has been reserved for only the men’s tournament.
If these steps are made, we will soon see the changes in the NCAA organization that have been needed for decades to get women’s sports the equality that they deserve.
The full report from Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLP is available with the link below. https://ncaagenderequityreview.com