NCAA Gender Equity Review Recommends Holding Joint Men's, Women's Final Fours

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2021

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh. Widespread testing for the new coronavirus will be crucial to having college sports in the fall, especially contact sports such as football and basketball, the NCAA's chief medical officer said, Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP released a 114-page report Tuesday that criticized the NCAA's efforts to maintain gender equity and suggested the organization hold the men's and women's Final Fours at the same site in the future.

Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press provided details, noting the law firm was hired following public criticism about the NCAA's efforts during the 2021 basketball tournaments in March.

NCAA President Mark Emmert even issued an apology after such criticism. 

"With respect to women's basketball, the NCAA has not lived up to its stated commitment to 'diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators,'" the report stated, pointing to issues that extend beyond the 2021 tourneys and were at least in part tied to media rights deals.

The report also stated the NCAA's systems "are designed to maximize the value of and support to the Division I Men's Basketball Championship as the primary source of funding for the NCAA and its membership."

A number of players, including Sabrina Ionescu, A'ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and CJ McCollum, criticized the NCAA for the lackluster amenities available during the NCAA women's tournament compared to the men's resources:

Sabrina Ionescu @sabrina_i20

Women’s <a href="https://twitter.com/NCAA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NCAA</a> bubble weight room vs Men’s weight room... thought this was a joke. WTF is this?!? <br>To all the women playing in the <a href="https://twitter.com/marchmadness?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@marchmadness</a> tournament, keep grinding! <a href="https://t.co/K04KTv6s46">pic.twitter.com/K04KTv6s46</a>

A'ja Wilson @_ajawilson22

... nah they tweaking on the swag bag too?!?! <a href="https://t.co/tdxx5lOQuc">https://t.co/tdxx5lOQuc</a>

Kelsey Plum @Kelseyplum10

We want some answers <a href="https://twitter.com/NCAA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NCAA</a> who thought this was acceptable???? <a href="https://t.co/mOBXQb6OBT">https://t.co/mOBXQb6OBT</a>

CJ McCollum @CJMcCollum

That’s 🗑 they gotta do better <a href="https://t.co/IDSQ5pxPLn">https://t.co/IDSQ5pxPLn</a>

NCAA vice president Lynn Holzman released a statement acknowledging the differences:

"We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment. In part, this is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament. However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment."

The men's tournament was based in Indiana, while the women's tournament took place in Texas.

The review by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP stated the NCAA should perform annual assessments during the next five years to see if it is improving its gender equity.