By Rachel Bachman and Laine Higgins
The NCAA has undervalued its annual women’s basketball tournament by tens of millions of dollars and should overhaul how it operates and sells rights to the event, according to a critical report by a law firm the NCAA hired to analyze gender inequities in its championships.
The NCAA’s broadcast agreements, corporate sponsorships, revenue distribution, organizational structure and culture “all prioritize Division I men’s basketball over everything else in ways that create, normalize, and perpetuate gender inequities,” according to the 118-page report prepared by the law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLC.
The report concludes that maximizing revenues from women’s basketball and other sports will “promote gender equity while at the same time increasing and diversifying the NCAA’s revenue streams.”
The NCAA hired the Kaplan firm in March, following the firestorm from a video posted to social media by Oregon women’s player Sedona Prince showing a single skimpy weight rack at the women’s tournament compared with a sprawling setup of equipment at the men’s event. The Kaplan report details the vast difference between the 2021 men’s and women’s tournaments in areas including funding, food, Covid-19 testing, equipment, outdoor space and more.