NCAA admits work continues toward equality

FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) — The conversation about equality in athletics always seems to come back to money.

Money earned.

Money spent.

Money lost.

According to the Kaplan report, the structure put in place by the NCAA created a “losing game” for the women’s tournament.

“The Kaplan report has been extremely extensively researched and they’ve put together some really great material,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We weren’t all happy to read because it was difficult. Some of them were just hard to read and their review was harsh in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it was wrong.

The Kaplan report revealed that the NCAA spent $53.2 million on the 2019 men’s tournament, compared to $17.9 million for the women’s tournament.

The report explains the many disparities, “limiting the growth of women’s basketball”. And that the lack of investment “has perpetuated a misguided narrative that women’s basketball is destined to be a ‘loser’ year after year.”

“We certainly still know we have a ways to go,” Emmert added. “It is certainly not a finished task or anything close to it, but in the time available and the resources that have been invested, I think you will all be able to see and recognize that there have been quite a few changes that have happened.

The factor that the Women’s Final Four coaches seemed to agree on is that the biggest financial hurdle is the distribution system currently in place, which financially rewards men’s schools and conferences for their success in the NCAA tournament.

“It doesn’t have to be the same, we just need to be treated right,” Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz said. “As long as they have the same experiences, that’s what we fight for.”

“Now, as they discussed, it would be great to see revenue shares distributed as you go through the NCAA Tournament for women as well,” Walz added. “And it may not be the same amount as men. You see, I’ve never been a big fan of “everything has to be the same”.

The NCAA Revenue Distribution System awarded $168.5 million in 2019 based on their performances in the men’s basketball tournament and $0 for success in the women’s tournament. And according to the Kaplan report, this prompts schools and conferences to prioritize programs for men.

“I believe we should incorporate a unity structure over the next ten years where we have a financial reward for successful teams,” agreed Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer. “I think it would help with each campus’ resources.”

But that decision to add revenue distribution rests with the conferences.

“There’s a group working on it right now,” Emmert explained. “That’s part of it being a great time for this transformation committee to work and the new constitution, because I think it’s really important that they look at it, look at how can we get the resources we need in this championship and other women’s championships in total by the way.

The barrier to getting compensation for women’s programs is where the money comes from.

One possibility is that it will be taken from the same pool as the men’s funds, but the Kaplan report also suggested that the next television contract, which will start in 2024, could be renegotiated to create a new pool of money where a fund women’s basketball performance could develop. her own.

“For so long it feels like we’ve acted like when it comes to women’s sports, it’s kind of rocket science and it’s like ‘how can we increase viewership?’ Very easy. Right?” said ESPN host Elle Duncan. “You grow viewership through stronger coverage. You grow viewership by making people fall in love with these players, talking about storylines and giving them a platform, right?”

The NCAA has sold eight of the last nine women’s championships and the Kaplan report acknowledged an already growing audience for women’s basketball, with this year’s numbers proving their good projection.

ESPN reported that this year’s title game was the most-watched season finale in nearly two decades, up 18% from last year’s title game and up 30% from to 2019.

“If you build it, they will come,” Duncan said. “If you get people interested in the game they will come and watch and it didn’t hurt that we had fantastic competition.”

Although money is a major factor in the latest shortcomings highlighted by the Kaplan report, some of the most successful and experienced coaches in the women’s games have even more suggestions which they believe have an even bigger impact. about the athlete and the product.

“Look, there are things that don’t involve money,” UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma offered. “Teams that played Monday night in the NCAA Tournament, we got home at 2:00 Tuesday morning and left Tuesday to come here and we practice Wednesday, Thursday for the biggest game of the year.”

“Guys finish Sunday and they have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and they play Saturday,” Auriemma added. “I don’t see that in the report. So all the things people talk about don’t do anything to improve your team. The swag bag and the weight room and all the other bullshit we talked about last year. It’s not helping these kids prepare for Friday night’s game. Three extra days would help. So we should talk about that kind of stuff.

One of the final elements suggested by the Kaplan report was to move the men’s and women’s championships to the same location, but not every coach and player we spoke with at the Final Four agreed with the suggestion. Confident, the women’s tournament has and can stand on its own.

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