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Sunday, July 14, 2024

NCAA Makes Equity Improvements to Women’s Basketball Tournament

  • NCAA officials spoke with Front Office Sports about their progress improving gender equity between the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments.
  • Two things that will be exactly identical: swag bags and Final Four recreational lounges.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

Last year, viral social media posts exposed inequities between the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Under fire, the NCAA commissioned an equity report and spent the last several months trying to right its wrongs

NCAA officials spoke with Front Office Sports about their progress:

  • The NCAA recalibrated its budget, comparing it “line by line” with the men’s, VP of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman said, but declined to release numbers.
  • More contractors, vendors, and new full-time employees will work this year’s women’s tournament.
  • Women’s Final Four activations have increased from seven in 2019 to 11. Buick will serve as the inaugural presenting sponsor for the “Party on the Plaza.”
  • Swag bags and Final Four lounges — the latter of which women’s teams will receive for the first time — will be identical for both tournaments.

The NCAA will use March Madness branding for the women’s tournament and host a “First Four” round for the first time.

“The work’s not done, though,” UTSA AD and D-I women’s basketball oversight committee chair Lisa Campos said. 

Potential Caveats

On-court branding may not be as prominent during the women’s on-campus early rounds, which aren’t hosted at predetermined sites like men’s games, Duke AD and D-I women’s basketball committee chair Nina King warned. The turnaround time is too short.

And in the normal, non-bubble format, food is up to “school and team discretion,” though the NCAA funds meals, Holzman said. Funding is equal for men’s and women’s teams.

Holzman also said the NCAA doesn’t usually provide weight rooms during non-bubble championships. 

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