Members of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee held a meeting with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association executive committee on Monday to address inequities between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that made headlines last month.
ESPN reports that among the items discussed in the meeting were the possibility of expanding the women’s NCAA tournament field to 68 teams from 64, to match the format of the men’s event; adopting a 5-year revenue distribution model based on rolling average of success; and the challenges of executing both the men’s and women’s Final Four events on the same weekend.
WBCA executive director Danielle Donehew told ESPN that the meeting was a productive first step in what she expects will be an ongoing process.
"We ... outlined the issues," Donehew told ESPN. "And as we outlined the issues, it just reinforced that it's going to take some time to unpack them, and to propose meaningful changes, it's going to take some time to understand and work together to create a priority list of which ones do we want to recommend first? We thought today's meeting was good and productive. But again, it's just the first of a series of meetings."
Several coaches spoke at the meeting, including Toledo coach and WBCA president Tricia Cullop, who told ESPN that she hoped the disappointments of this year’s women’s tournament could translate into positive change.
"I don't want to look 10 years down the line and not see movement," Cullop told ESPN. "I would really like for us to work together so that we find solutions and that we see movement. I don't want our coaches and our membership across the country to be frustrated with things not changing. We want to show we want to be able to work together with the oversight committee to create needed change. So that ... our coaches and our student-athletes feel the value that they deserve to feel."
"What happened in San Antonio has led us to an opportunity, and sports teaches us that we always want to do our best with the opportunities that are in front of us," Donehew added.
In a statement signed by Lisa Campos and Nina King, the chairs of the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and Women’s Basketball Committee respectively, the committees said they looked forward to continued collaboration while the NCAA external review of equity issues continues.
“We look forward to continued collaboration with the WBCA leadership as we all work to embrace the full potential of women’s basketball and implement any changes for an equitable experience for women’s basketball student-athletes,” the statement read.