Women’s Basketball Teams Fight for Equality From the NCAA
In a year that focused on equality for women in sports, the NCAA came up short of that hope after photos revealed the disparity between the men's and women's March Madness tournaments.
The NCAA came under fire Thursday afternoon after photos of the women's basketball weight rooms were posted on social media. Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince exposed the situation on Twitter with a short video that compared the men's and women's weight rooms.
The inequality between weight rooms was just the start of the problem. The women received a swag bag with only a few items like scrunchies and umbrellas, while the men's bags were packed full of prizes, including books and shoes. The men had a buffet of food options, and the women had to eat meals packed in takeout containers.
Several star athletes and coaches have come out against the NCAA, including University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma. In a statement on ESPN, Auriemma said this happens all the time:
"This has been a lifelong issue. This isn't something new," Auriemma said. "What's happening at the NCAA level is a small sample of what occurs every single day on every college campus, pretty much, throughout this country...We're very fortunate at UConn, but it didn't used to be that way. I spent 20-some years here battling the same things."
University of Alabama women's basketball coach Kristy Curry said it has to be better and the NCAA administration will learn from this. Curry stated the NCAA can turn this adverse situation into a positive to help grow women's basketball. As Alabama prepares for their second round matchup of the women's tournament on Wednesday night, Curry said the team will continue to use their voice.
"They’re going to continue to have voices,” Curry told AL.com. “But I think the biggest voice that they want to have right now is we came to San Antonio to win, and we want to focus on the things we can control, but we also will continue to speak and create a platform for every little girl that wants to be just like them to be treated exactly the same."
Within 24 hours, the women's basketball teams received a brand new weight room. NCAA administrators Lynn Holzman, vice-president for women's basketball, and Dan Gavitt, vice-president for basketball, issued apologies for the disparity between the weight room and admitted he dropped the ball.
"We have intentionally organized basketball under one umbrella, with the goal of consistency and collaboration. When we fall short of these expectations, that's on me," stated Gavitt. "I apologize to women's basketball student-athletes, to the coaches, to the women's basketball committee for dropping the ball, frankly, on the weight-room issue in San Antonio..."
For some, the apologies were accepted, while others did not believe it. The NCAA's lack of promotion for the women's March Madness Tournament during Women's History Month shows the NCAA's value for women athletes. Many coaches and players say this is a learning point for the NCAA to make the men and women's basketball tournaments equal.