Disparities in weight training amenities available to participants in the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments this year drew nationwide attention — and some outrage. In the end, those inequities may serve as catalyst to the respective tournaments being treated more similarly in much broader ways moving forward.
While awaiting the findings of an external gender equity review, the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee has held regular virtual meetings since the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship to begin determining the best path forward, according to an article posted Tuesday at NCAA.org.
“The oversight committee is dedicated to moving quickly to bring positive changes to the sport of women’s basketball,” said Lisa Campos, athletics director at UTSA and chair of the women’s basketball oversight committee. “We are having these exploratory discussions now on items that are of high interest to members and women’s basketball stakeholders, with the expectation that we will be able to lay a foundation to take the next appropriate steps once the gender equity review is completed.”
As reported by NCAA associate director of communications Meghan Durham, the oversight committee has identified the following topics in which discussions will begin immediately:
- Branding — The committee intends to work in concert with the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee to review branding around college basketball, with a desire to develop a holistic men’s and women’s collegiate basketball branding strategy. This could include the potential use of March Madness marketing and branding for both championships. The committee intends to consider branding opportunities to highlight elements of the sport that are unique to women’s basketball.
Participation opportunities — The oversight committee has asked the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee to explore multiple possible structural changes for the Division I women’s tournament. The basketball committee will work with broadcast partners and other stakeholders to evaluate formats that include the expansion of the tournament field to 68 teams, as well as possible changes to the timing of the tournament and the Division I Women’s Final Four.
The oversight committee will begin discussions about providing some form of NCAA support for other postseason events to provide more equitable resources or experiences for the women’s basketball teams that do not qualify for the NCAA tournament each year.
Additionally, the oversight committee is renewing discussions about the expansion of the College Basketball Academies to include an event for girls. It is also looking at other issues such as the women’s basketball recruiting calendar and structural changes for the sport.