NCAA hires law firm to assess gender equity at tourneys

Indiana vs. Belmont during the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bill Greehey Arena on March 24 in San Antonio. (Photo by Scott Wachter/NCAA Photos)

Under sharp criticism during its marquee March Madness tournaments, the Indianapolis-based NCAA said Thursday it is hiring a law firm to review potential gender equity issues related to how it conducts its men’s and women’s championship events.

The NCAA has been accused the past two weeks of not providing equal amenities to the teams in the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments. Among other things, female players, coaches and staff in San Antonio have criticized the NCAA for not initially providing a full weight-training area to the women’s teams, noting the men’s teams in Indianapolis did not have the same problem.

The NCAA has apologized and President Mark Emmert said Thursday that Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, which has experience in Title IX and gender equity issues, will conduct an “independent equity review” and evaluate the organization’s “practices and policies and provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better.”

“The NCAA will continue to aggressively address material and impactful differences between the Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships,” Emmert said in a statement. “While many of the operational issues identified have been resolved, we must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports. As part of this effort, we are evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue.”

The latest damage control from the NCAA comes amidst mounting scrutiny from outside college sports. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill have asked for answers from Emmert and NCAA officials about what happened with the two tournments.

The events are each being held in one site for the first time in the modern era. All the men’s games are being held in Indiana, with 68 teams being hosted in Indianapolis. The 64-team women’s field is being hosted in the San Antonio area.

Unlike in past years, when individual hosting sites where responsible for amenities for both men’s and women’s teams, NCAA committees were responsible for most planning and executing most aspects of each event.

“I have made clear that Kaplan Hecker and the staff supporting them will have direct access to the Board of Governors to discuss any issue that may arise during their work while Kaplan Hecker is conducting this review and assessment,” Emmert said in his statement. ““While it is still very early in the process, we hope to have these preliminary assessments in late April, with a final report this summer after all of our championships are completed.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

12 thoughts on “NCAA hires law firm to assess gender equity at tourneys

  1. Let’s watch the wokeys take down another institution. Hasn’t the NCAA already conceded to 100% of the transgender lobby’s demands, thereby ensuring that almost all women’s amateur athletic records will get obliterated by XY chromosomes entering their sports? There’s absolutely room to discuss the place of transgenderism in everyday society, but to promise them the Louisiana Purchase is only conveying one message: call yourself non-binary and the world is putty in your hands. (Which is in large part why so many people claim to be non-binary these days). I guess it’s all just too progressive for my meager brain.

    And now we’re getting women bleating about equity when their tournament not only gets (at most) a fraction of the viewership–and commands a fraction of the revenue–but most people I know weren’t even aware of a simultaneous Women’s tournament taking place. It’s about as relevant as men’s roller derby.

    For those who never psychologically advanced beyond the fifth grade, here’s the message you were supposed to learn: life isn’t fair. Never will be. There will never be a point where male models command even close to the attention (and money) that women’s fashion and its supermodels earn. And these days, those supermodels (especially the females) can even be fat! Not fair to the men, but they have to take their lumps and move on. I suggest the girls (they get called “women” when they finally prove they’re adults) start doing the same.

    1. An excellent synopsis, American D. Thanks.

      Great quote: For those who never psychologically advanced beyond the fifth grade, here’s the message you were supposed to learn: life isn’t fair. Never will be.

      Good analysis on male versus female models, too.

    1. A lot of girl basketball players are triggered over less than nothing, and you’re rushing to their defense.

      Nothing could make me happier to be “triggered over nothing” in this case. Because their grievance is, quite obviously, nothing. And catering to their grievance will only teach them that throwing temper tantrums gets them their way…so they’ll learn to throw more temper tantrums. And the NCAA will be placing itself in the exact same situation that higher ed is facing, with precipitously declining returns. At least higher ed in Indiana has the Lilly Endowment to bail them out (temporarily). Will the same thing be available for the NCAA? Eventually all “equity initiatives” do run out of other people’s money.

    2. It is such a waste of your time to care that people want a better situation for themselves. Do you feel threatened? Does it personally affect you? Maybe you should look at yourself in the mirror.

    3. Hi Robert. Maybe we should let homeless people camp out in your front yard. They “want a better situation for themselves too”, and a private grassy yard in a safe area is much more pleasant than the mean streets of downtown Indy. Don’t live in a house, you say? Let’s pack them into the front foyer or lobby of your apartment. Promise you won’t become a NIMBY?

      If the girls have a tournament that attracts 1/100 the revenue of the men, they should be content if their facilities are 1/10th as good. It means they’re still getting funding support out of proportion to what they themselves are able to generate. It’s unfortunate that neither men nor women are remotely close to sufficiently interested in women’s b-ball, but that’s life. Ever notice how women’s gymnastics gets all the attention at the Olympics every 4 years? A man could be just as good–they often are–but they’re not getting endorsements or capsule features on their accomplishments. Life ain’t fair, kiddo.

      Rational people know you can’t support an institution or a business by continually short-changing the profitable components (NBA) to help support the ones that aren’t profitable (WNBA). Carry that approach to its full ideological ends and you destroy the institution. Maybe that’s the route we’re going for here?

      Tell Megan Rapinoe I said hi! Everybody absolutely loves her, don’t they?

    4. When did I ever say that life was fair or cry in support of the women’s NCAA teams? All I said is that you guys are triggered over nothing, which is true. The NCAA is a private organization and it can do anything it wants. If the NCAA wants to try to make things within its own organization more equitable, they can. If they don’t want to do anything, they can. The publicity from the previous situations could have very well cost the NCAA more money than upgrading a workout room or whatever – you don’t know. Why go on some crazy speculative rant?

      Your most recent tirade, which went all over the place with apples-to-oranges comparisons, is beyond silly and almost into “tweaker” territory.

  2. Is there anything more asinine than spending money to hire a law firm to give input on what one should already know what to do: make sure the entire men’s and women’s event have the same protocol, including training facilities, meals, covid-19 protocol, etc?

    Especially stupid when the NCAA should be allocating the same percentage of revenue to women’s team winning a game as it does to men’s team.

    Definition of dumb: hiring a firm to tell you what to do when you already know what to do.
    Definition of dumber: Not firing Mark Emmert, the idiot in charge (who BTW made an egregiously stupid decision to extend a TV agreement with a pitiful increase while all other major sports entities, NFL, MLB, et al negotiated for major boosts in their TV contracts.

    1. @Michael A. “Especially stupid when the NCAA should be allocating the same percentage of revenue to women’s team winning a game as it does to men’s team.”

      Uhhhh, what? How does this make any sense whatsoever? Please explain those economics.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.