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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Twice As Nice: Four Schools Have Men’s, Women’s Teams in Sweet 16

  • Tennessee, Miami, UCLA, and UConn are sending both men’s and women’s programs to the Sweet 16.
  • Investment, administrators, and culture all contribute to success on both sides.
Tennessee women's players celebrating during the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Saul Young/ USA TODAY NETWORK

This year, Tennessee, Miami, UCLA, and UConn have accomplished an impressive feat: sending both their men’s and women’s programs to the Sweet 16. 

There’s no perfect formula for prowess on both sides — but there are commonalities.

“I think it really starts with administration,” Tennessee men’s coach Rick Barnes told reporters on Wednesday, noting that athletic director Danny White “has come in and has made as big an impact within two years as anyone I’ve ever seen. … He’s done something to help every sport on that campus.”

Investment doesn’t hurt, either.

All four schools spent at least $16 million in aggregate on both programs in 2021-22, according to Department of Education data — not including coaching salaries. They also spent a minimum of $5.5 million on their women’s programs.

  • UConn: $24.1M for mens, $8.5M for women’s, $32.6M total
  • Tennessee: $14.4M for the mens, $6M for the women’s, $20.4M total 
  • UCLA: $12M for men’s, $5.6M for women’s, $17.6M total
  • Miami: $10M for men’s, $6M for women’s, $16M

The last piece of the puzzle appears to be culture.

“We’re close,” Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier said of the men’s and women’s teams on Monday. “We watched [the men] last night.” 

Meier described how the teams tease each other in the training room and put “win/loss” on their whiteboard: “We talk like, ‘Oh, you’re going to win?’ You should’ve hit that shot.’”

To get to the Sweet 16, both Miami teams beat Indiana.

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