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NCAA to Conduct External Review Following Backlash

Jason Scott

After the NCAA was harshly criticized for inequities between its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the association announced that it would hire a third-party law firm to conduct a review of its practices and make recommendations for improvement.

According to a statement, the NCAA will retain the law firm of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP — which “has significant experience in Title IX and gender equity issues” — to conduct the review. Kaplan Hecker will review all championships at all three NCAA divisions and seek to “identify any other gaps that need to be addressed, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to achieve gender equity.”

The move comes as the NCAA improved weight training facilities at the women’s NCAA tournament in San Antonio. Images and video circulated on social media of the clear disparity between what the women had been initially offered and what was made available to student-athletes competing in the men’s NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. 

Related: NCAA Improves Women's Workout Area Following Outcry

“The NCAA will continue to aggressively address material and impactful differences between the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” Emmert said in the statement. “While many of the operational issues identified have been resolved, we must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports.”

In addition to disparate facilities, the NCAA was also criticized for providing the women with sub-par swag bags and food compared to what the men received, and for using antigen COVID-19 testing, which is believed to be less accurate than the PCR testing the men’s tournament is using. However, as ESPN reports, the NCAA is not a public institution, it's not subject to Title IX rules.

Emmert said he hoped Kaplan Hecker would have preliminary assessments ready for review by late April, and would be able to submit a full report by Summer following the conclusion of this year’s championship events. 

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