A scathing report on the NCAA released this week showed what, sadly, was obvious: The Indiana-based college sports behemoth treats its women's and men's athletes differently.
The differences had been clear for years in how it marketed and promoted women's sports, with markedly less fanfare than its men's offerings. The dichotomy was notably laid bare in March, when social media posts from female athletes showed much less attention paid to their facilities during the women's basketball tournament.
A New York law firm hired to review the disparities also noted differences in COVID-19 testing protocols, meals, outdoor recreation opportunities and staffing for the women's tournament.
Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP said in a 113-page report the NCAA did not uphold a commitment to gender equity and prevented growth of women's sports.
The NCAA's structure and systems “are designed to maximize the value of and support to the Division I Men's Basketball Championship as the primary source of funding for the NCAA and its membership,” the report says.
A media rights deal with broadcasters CBS and Turner netted about $900 million for men's sports, while the women's tournament is part of a $34 million deal packaged with two dozen other NCAA championships, the Associated Press reported. Kaplan Hecker & Fink say the women's tournament alone could be worth up to $112 million annually by 2025.