Sunday December 3, 2023

NCAA Fails Again

  • The second phase of the NCAA's gender equity review revealed that a similar culture permeates other sports including basketball..
  • There are problems with media rights, corporate sponsorship, marketing resources, and total investment.
Photo: Nebraska Athletics/Design: Alex Brooks
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In August, the first phase of the NCAA Gender Equity Review found that inequalities were “baked into the very fabric” of the Division I basketball tournaments. 

Yesterday, the second phase revealed that a similar culture permeates other sports.

“For sports in which one championship is viewed as producing significantly more revenue than its gender counterpart, stark differences in spending and staffing emerge, leading to inequitable student-athlete experiences in those championships,” the report said. 

The NCAA only considers Division I baseball, men’s basketball, lacrosse, hockey, and wrestling “revenue-generating.” So it largely treats women’s sports athletes as second-class citizens.

  • The corporate sponsorship agreement “encourages uneven investment in championships.”
  • Women’s sports received fewer fan fests, less investment in signage, and smaller venues.
  • In 2018-19, the NCAA spent an average of $4,285 per men’s athlete but only $2,588 per women’s athlete outside of basketball — a difference of $1,697 per athlete. 

Even in women’s volleyball, where the NCAA spent about the same per athlete on both tournaments and provided marketing and larger venues to the women’s tournament, several issues materialized.

The media rights contract clearly undervalues other sports, too. It bundles 29 championships for an average of only $34 million a year. The first phase of the report found that women’s basketball media rights alone were worth millions more. 

One bit of good news? There’s apparently less inequality in Divisions II and III, where the governing body doesn’t consider any championship a moneymaker.

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