Gender Equity Fuels Debate Over Moving Final Fours to Same City

    • The NCAA has traditionally hosted the men’s and women’s Final Fours in different cities.
    • That setup has been called into question — thanks to issues of gender equity. 

The NCAA has traditionally hosted the men’s and women’s Final Fours in different cities, but that setup has been called into question because of gender equity issues. 

In 2013, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman suggested hosting both Final Fours in the same city in a white paper — though the NCAA largely ignored the idea. But after last year’s report by Kaplan Hecker & Fink agreed, the NCAA finally commissioned a formal review.

  • The Kaplan report said the idea could increase ticket sales, enhance media coverage, and ensure an equitable experience given the NCAA’s problematic corporate sponsorship program. 
  • Two potential concerns, per the papers: the logistical hurdle of finding a host city for such a large event, and fears of the women’s tournament being “overshadowed.”

Women’s Basketball Coaches Association executive director Danielle Donehew told Front Office Sports that many women’s coaches echoed the latter concern, with only 55% supporting the idea.

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer is against it for now. “We’re in a good place,” she said. “Our tournament is really growing.”  This year’s tournament has seen high TV ratings and record attendance.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma, however, told reporters he was “willing to try anything.”

NCAA’s Decision

After months of review, the governing body decided to punt on the idea until at least 2031. Duke athletic director and Division I Women’s Basketball Committee Chair Nina King told FOS that officials want to wait to see how other reforms play out first. 

But was it a missed opportunity?