AP

Report: NCAA makes progress on gender inequality at tourneys

Jul 20, 2022, 1:50 AM | Updated: 1:52 pm

FILE - Delaware's Jasmine Dickey holds up the March Madness ticket following the second half of an ...

FILE - Delaware's Jasmine Dickey holds up the March Madness ticket following the second half of an NCAA college basketball championship game against Drexel in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference Tournament, Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Philadelphia. Delaware won 63-59. The NCAA has adequately addressed nine of 23 recommendations for creating comparable NCAA Tournament experiences for men's and women's basketball players, according to a progress report released Wednesday. July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola, File)

(AP Photo/Chris Szagola, File)

The NCAA has adequately addressed nine of 23 recommendations for creating comparable NCAA Tournament experiences for men’s and women’s basketball players, according to a progress report released Wednesday.

College sports’ largest governing body hired a third party to evaluate its response to a scathing report issued almost a year ago that criticized gender inequality in the tournaments.

Among the most visible changes noted in the progress report were “March Madness” branding and increased cross-promotion for both tournaments in 2022, as well as the addition of four teams to the women’s tournament to create a “First Four” event to bring it in line with the men’s tournament structure.

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball committees jointly rejected a recommendation to hold simultaneous Final Fours in the same city, the report said, and NCAA leadership decided against changing the Division I basketball administrative structure. That means vice president of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman continues to report to senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt.

An outside firm was hired to conduct the assessment and that the NCAA was honoring the firm’s request to not be identified, as per company policy, NCAA Associate Director of Communications Meghan Durham told The Associated Press in an email.

“The findings of this assessment illustrate our commitment to advance gender equity at NCAA championships. Thanks to a collaborative spirit, significant accomplishments were achieved this past year,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We have said it before — our work is not finished. Gender equity must remain a priority for leaders throughout college sports and we look forward to continuing to support these efforts moving forward.”

The initial report published in August was done by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, which was hired after the NCAA failed to provide similar amenities to the teams in the 2021 men’s and women’s Division I tournaments.

The tournaments were played in “bubbles” because of the pandemic, and players blew up social media with complaints that showed disparities between men’s and women’s weight-training facilities, food, lounge areas and gifts — prompting apologies from NCAA executives.

The Kaplan report said the NCAA failed to uphold its commitment to gender equity by prioritizing its cash-cow men’s tournament “over everything else” and put forth the recommendations that the NCAA has enacted or considered.

The issues that women’s players drew attention to have been addressed, the progress report noted. And in addition to the branding improvements, the NCAA increased full-time staff working on women’s tournament; improved communication between men’s and women’s basketball committees; began a program to identify and track areas that need to be the same, comparable and different in men’s and women’s tournament experiences; hired a third party to produce an annual report on gender-equity initiatives; and issued statements on how gender-equity issues are or will be addressed.

The progress report also pointed out the NCAA increased the 2022 women’s tournament expenses budget by $6.1 million and that an additional $1 million would be added.

Among areas in progress: hiring a full-time employee to focus on women’s and gender-equity issues; initiating third-party assessments of gender-equity progress every five years; emphasizing new corporate sponsorships for the women’s tournament; pursuing promotional and marketing opportunities that benefit both tournaments; building on the increased branding visibility with “March Madness” courts and hoops at the women’s First Four and first and second rounds.

In the future, the NCAA is looking to pursue standalone rights for the women’s tournament once existing media and marketing contracts expire in 2024, the report said, as well as hiring a senior vice president for revenue focusing on both tournaments and creating a women’s tournament revenue distribution plan that’s more in line with that of the men’s tournament.

NCAA revenues surpassed $1 billion in the year before the pandemic and almost $900 million of that was tied to the media rights deal with CBS and Turner for the men’s tournament.

The women’s tournament is part of a package with more than two dozen other NCAA championships that ESPN owns and pays about $34 million per year for through 2023-24. But according to an assessment done for Kaplan by a team of sports media and marketing experts, the women’s tournament will be worth between $81 and $112 million annually beginning in 2025.

___

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Report: NCAA makes progress on gender inequality at tourneys