Disparities in NCAA tournament still remain

Viral pictures sparked conversation towards equality


Aidan Shafton

Last year, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) received lots of backlash over pictures posted to social media that contained both the men’s and women’s basketball training facilities for the annual March Madness tournament. One of the training facilities, the men’s, was filled with everything the players needed to maintain proper strength and conditioning during the tournament, while the other training facility, the women’s, was a rack of dumbbells and a pile of yoga mats, an underwhelming and offensive gesture by the NCAA to their female players. 

So has the NCAA fixed this problem of inequality between the men’s and women’s tournament since last year? Starting this year the women in the tournament will receive the same gift box as the men, which includes a sleeveless hoodie, a baseball cap, and a notebook. Along with that, the women will now get a lounge at the Final Four that includes a pasta station, three big-screen TV’s, and 28 pillows (yes, the NCAA did mention that they get exactly 28 pillows). These additions to the experience of March Madness for the women will be nice, but the NCAA still fails to address the real problem that they have between the men’s and women’s tournament. 

In 2016, the NCAA struck a whopping $8.8 billion deal with CBS to keep the men’s tournament on CBS through the year 2032. In 2011, the NCAA made a deal with ESPN for $34 million to have the TV rights to 29 collegiate sports, one of which was women’s basketball. This massive difference in TV deals for men and women’s basketball shows that the NCAA criminally underrates the potential that the women’s tournament has to bring in lots of new viewers, and  they’re completely ignoring the idea of promoting the women’s tournament even in the slightest to increase viewership and interest. 

Division I women’s basketball has the exciting players they need to be promoted by the NCAA, but the NCAA continues to overlook it. Players like Minnesota-native Paige Bueckers of the University of Connecticut and Iowa University’s Caitlin Clark have all the eye popping moments and amazing game performances, but few people know about them because of the miniscule promotion from the NCAA. If the NCAA does not act on this golden business opportunity hastily, NCAA executives are going to be losing sleep over it very soon.