FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) – The conversation about equality in athletics always seems to come back to money.
According to Kaplan’s report, the NCAA’s structure created a “losing game” for the women’s tournament.
“The Kaplan report was extremely thoroughly researched and they put together some really great material,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “Not all of which we were happy to read because it was difficult. Some of it was just hard stuff to read, and his criticism was harsh in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it was wrong.”
Kaplan’s report found that the NCAA spent $53.2 million on the 2019 men’s tournament, compared to $17.9 million on the women’s.
The report explained the many disparities, “limited the growth of women’s basketball.” And that the lack of investment “perpetuated a false narrative that women’s basketball is destined to be a ‘money loser’ year after year.”
“Certainly we still know we have a long way to go,” Emmert added. “This is certainly not a done deal or anything remotely close, but in the time that was available and the resources that we were able to put into it, I think everyone will be able to see and recognize that there was a lot of change. what happened.”
Factor coaches in the women’s Final Four seemed to agree that the biggest financial hurdle is the distribution scheme currently in place, which financially rewards men’s schools and conferences for success in the NCAA tournament.
“It doesn’t have to be the same, we just need to be treated right,” Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz said. “As long as they have the same experiences, that’s what we’re fighting for.”
“Now, as they’ve discussed, it would be great to see portions of the revenue split as you go through the NCAA tournament for women as well,” Walz added. “And it may not be the same amount as men. Look, I’ve never been a big advocate of ‘everything has to be the same’.
The NCAA’s revenue distribution scheme awarded $168.5 million in 2019 based on performance in the men’s basketball tournament and $0 for success in the women’s tournament. And according to Kaplan’s report, that creates an incentive for schools and conferences to prioritize programs for men.
“I think we should build in a unit structure over the next 10 years where we have a financial reward for the success of teams,” agreed Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer. “I think that would help with the resources on each campus.”
But that decision to add revenue sharing rests with the conferences.
“There’s a group working on it right now,” Emmert explained. “That’s part of this being a great time to get this transformation committee going and the new constitution because I think it’s really important that they look at it, look at how we can get the resources that we need in this championship and other women’s championships. overall championships by the way.”
The obstacle to getting compensation from women’s programs is the question of where the money comes from.
One possibility is that it is taken from the same fund as the men’s funds, but Kaplan’s report also suggested that the next television contract, which will start in 2024, could be renegotiated to create a new money fund where a fund of money could grow. women’s basketball performance. its own.
“For so long it seems like we’ve acted like when it comes to women’s sports, it’s like rocket science and it’s like ‘how do we grow the audience?’ Very easy. Right?” said ESPN host Elle Duncan. “Your audience grows with stronger coverage. You grow your audience by making people fall in love with these players, talking about stories and giving them a platform, right?
The NCAA has sold out eight of the last nine women’s championships and the Kaplan report recognized an already growing audience for women’s basketball with this year’s numbers proving its projection correct.
ESPN reported that this year’s title game was the most-watched season finale in nearly two decades, up 18 percent from last year’s title game and up 30 percent from 2019.
“If you build it, they will come,” Duncan said. “If you get people interested in the game, they’ll come to watch and it hasn’t hurt that we’ve had some fantastic competition.”
While money is a major factor in the latest gaps Kaplan’s report highlights, some of the most successful and experienced coaches in the women’s games have even more suggestions that they feel have an even greater impact on the athlete and the product.
“Look, there are things that don’t involve money,” UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma offered. “The teams that played Monday night in the NCAA tournament, we get home at 2:00 am Tuesday morning and we leave Tuesday to come here and practice Wednesday, Thursday for the biggest game of the anus”.
“The guys finish on Sunday and they have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and they play on Saturday,” added Auriemma. “I don’t see that in the report. So all the things people talk about do nothing to improve your team. The loot bag and the weight room and all the other crap we talked about last year. That doesn’t help these kids get ready for the game on Friday night. Three more days would help. So we should be talking about those things.”
One of the final pieces that Kaplan’s report suggested was moving the men’s and women’s championships to the same location, but every coach and player we spoke to at the Final Four disagreed with the suggestion. Trust that the women’s tournament has and can stand on its own.
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