March 19, 2021: The WSF is dismayed and disappointed by the obvious disparities in treatment of the student-athletes at their respective men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. What has already been publicly displayed includes significant differences between strength and conditioning facilities and swag bags for Division I schools, and game facilities and ticket availability for Division II schools. We call for the NCAA to review the critical decisions and organizational priorities which allowed for such visible disparities to occur, as well as to examine whether other unseen and unspoken inequities exist both within the current basketball championships and across other championships governed by the NCAA.
The NCAA touts gender equity as one of the key principles for conducting intercollegiate athletics. Further, the NCAA states ‘an athletics program can be considered gender equitable when the participants in both the men’s and women’s sports programs would accept as fair and equitable the overall program of the other gender.’ Clearly the examples brought to light this week do not meet this standard – or any standard – of equitable treatment.
Both men’s and women’s competitions are being held in controlled “bubble environments” due to COVID-19. This was a high-profile and unique opportunity for the NCAA to showcase its commitment to gender equity and yet, they unfortunately completely missed the mark.
Almost 50 years after the passage of Title IX, it is time for the NCAA to address the systems and resources that allowed these inequities to occur.