Three members of Congress have written a letter accusing Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA, of not making “inadequate” progress in dealing with “historically disparate” treatment for male and female athletes.
Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jackie Speier, California, and Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey, said that the NCAA is “violating the spirit gender equity as codified by Title IX.”
Emmert was blamed by them for not implementing some of the key recommendations in the external evaluation, which the NCAA requested last summer after inequalities between men’s and female basketball tournaments were revealed a year ago. Last month, the NCAA stated that it had made significant progress towards resolving the problems.
The NCAA responded to the letter Tuesday by sending an email statement. It stated that “the shortcomings at the women’s basketball tournament last season have been well-documented” and had provided extensive coverage. “Our work is far from done. However, we remain focused on the many improvements that have been made to provide students with an unforgettable experience at all of our championships.”
The letter was sent just a few days prior to the start of this year’s tournaments. It noted that the NCAA had “failed or committed to creating a role for a chief business executive to oversee NCAA’s media partnerships with CBS/Turner, ESPN, the Corporate Partners Program, branding and marketing for all champions.”
They also stated that Emmert has not made any progress in changing the leadership structure so that Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president for women’s basketball, reports directly to him rather than going through Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president for basketball.
In the letter, internal emails were cited from NCAA which highlighted some of last year’s disparities including food differences. When female players complained about the food quality, the staff declined to give food or gift cards to non-sponsors.
Chiney Ogwumike of the LA Sparks, a former Stanford star, offered $500 DoorDash gift vouchers to each of 64 teams. The NCAA declined the offer as Uber Eats is an NCAA corporate sponsor.
The NCAA already made changes to the women’s basketball tournament. Many of these changes were relatively simple to make, including expanding the tournament to 68 teams as well as using the phrase March Madness in branding — which was previously only for the men’s tourney.
March Madness will be on the court for the women’s tourney, but players and coaches must wait until the Sweet 16 before they can see it. The women’s tournament is played at 16 campus locations, unlike the men who have chosen the sites and branded the courts.
According to the NCAA, it is impossible for the March Madness-branded courts to be shipped and installed in the arenas before the start of the games.
Cori Close, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association president, stated that “it’s a practical problem in this case.” It’s not that they are unwilling to spend the money. I hope that there is as much signage as possible in all areas.
Close agreement with the NCAA regarding safety concerns that could result from putting March Madness decals down.
“I understand that you don’t want to put big stickers down. “Safety is my number one priority.” said the UCLA coach.
ESPN will digitally add March Madness to the courts during the first- and second round games. This will allow viewers to see branding at the corners of courts. March Madness branding and signs will be placed inside arenas by the NCAA.
Although the organization acknowledges that there are still many things to be done, The NCAA had previously announced that it would not combine both Final Fours. This was a recommendation by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. There are many other options, such as moving one of the Final Fours to another weekend. The events this year are in Minneapolis (women), and New Orleans (men).
The women’s tournament is in the midst of a discussion about TV rights. These TV rights are vital to hundreds of schools. The original contract between CBS and Turner with the NCAA was for 14-years at $10.8 billion ($770m per year). In 2016, they signed an eight-year extension that gave them rights until 2032. The per-year average will rise to $1.1 billion in 2025.