This women’s NCAA Tournament has the phrase “March Madness”.
Scoreboards are used in place of team names during practice. Scrolling on video ribbon boards. Banners in the arenas. The courts with TV magic during the first two rounds. After the uproar at this tourney last year, both men and women received hats with equal swag boxes .
It’s a start. It is not enough for players and coaches — and probably the NCAA. Women’s basketball growth is more than logos and gifts. There are now 68 teams for each team. Dawn Staley, a South Carolina coach, has an idea that the NCAA can immediately implement to help women bridge the gender gap.
Staley explained that the units refer to money. They get units like men’s basketball and those units are equal to dollar signs. We should divide it up as the 68 teams do.
For each NCAA Tournament match played by one of their teams, men’s conferences receive a unit worth $338210.96. Each team receives $2.03 million in conference money over six years. This tournament field has nine teams, which means that the Big Ten will receive more than $18million.
Stanford, the 2021 women’s champion, received no money to enter the tournament field. None of the other 68 teams will, either.
The NCAA must have a few committees to send money to women’s programs.
The NCAA’s agreement with Turner and CBS makes it easier to pay men. Original contract was $770 million annually with an extension in 2016. This increased the per-year average to $1.1 Billion in 2025.
Jeff Walz, Louisville coach, said revenue sharing is not going to be the same as what the men’s team is. “Just one would be impressive.”
For TV rights, the women’s tournament is currently bundled with other women’s championships. In 2024, the current contract with ESPN expires. ESPN will give each game in the tournament its own window, on one of its channels. There are also four games on ABC this year.
Bart Brooks, Belmont’s coach, noted that his 12-seeded Bruins double-overtime win over Oregon was broadcast on national television and not restricted to a local market like it was in past tournaments.
Brooks stated, “That was huge. Little girls who had never heard of Belmont might say, ‘Hey! That’s a pretty cool basketball team they’ve got, maybe I should look into that school.'” I think it’s good for the game to have this exposure.
After 2021 social media posts by Sedona Prince (Oregon forward) exposed some of the stark inequalities between men and women. The shocking report was created by a law firm that was hired to examine gender equity issues at NCAA championship events.
Three congresswomen wrote to Mark Emmert expressing dismay at his inability to shake up basketball’s management, which included adding a business officer who would deal with television networks and marketing for all championships.
Lynn Roberts, the Utah coach, said that she believes the NCAA is doing a lot to improve the visuals but has “a long way to go” to do so. Roberts stated that advertising and media deals are the real money.
Roberts stated, “If we’re talking about true equity the resources must be the same.”
Kelly Graves, Oregon’s coach, joked that he was going to run for Prince after sitting through a Zoom call lasting 45 minutes detailing the changes made to equity in the women’s tournament. Graves was serious and said that the changes were long overdue, but he was proud of his Ducks’ willingness to speak out.
Graves stated, “That being said we still cannot rest.” “We still have a long way to go.”
Graves was a long-standing advocate for the change from campus sites hosting the first round and second rounds to neutral sites. This is exactly what the men’s tournament does. Next year, the NCAA will use a neutral site to host the women’s First Four. This year’s inaugural edition was held at four locations that hosted early-round games at the respective schools.
Graves stated, “Whether there are 16 teams at one location in the first or second rounds, regardless of the format, I just think that our game is growing.” “Our game right now is really, really strong.”
Through the first two rounds , the women’s tournament had a record attendance of 216.890. The home-court advantage didn’t help much. Eight double digit seeds won, which tied 2018 for the most rounds. The top four seeds were knocked out at home by double figures for the first time.
“I don’t know if that’s possible yet but I think we’re ready,” North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart stated after the _r Tar Heels beat Arizona in Tucson on Monday night.
The NCAA selection committee has not discussed the possibility of moving first- or second-round games from neutral venues. This topic will be discussed after the April 3 Minneapolis championship game.
Cori Close, president of Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, stated that attendance must continue to increase.
The constant March Madness logos gave home arenas a feeling of the NCAA Tournament for players and coaches.
Arkansas guard Makayla Danis said, “I don’t think we want exactly the same thing.” “I believe we want it to be tailored to us. This is how it should be. It should be unique, but it should also meet the needs of female athletes.
Over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the NCAA addresses gender inequalities.
Staley stated, “Let’s just keep lifting our tournament up and hopefully we will find ourselves in a tournament that generates revenue.”