Congress wants answers from NCAA after weight room disparity at women’s basketball tournament

by Buzz Street Times

Texas Longhorns huddle during the second half against the UCLA Bruins in the second round game of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 24, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas.

Carmen Mandato | Getty Images

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s allegedly unequal treatment surrounding its women’s basketball tournament has gained more political attention.

Led by U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., 36 members of Congress wrote to NCAA President Mark Emmert seeking answers for last week’s weight room disparity in San Antonio, the site of the women’s Division I basketball tournament.

Officials claim the NCAA has “stark differences in the conditioning facilities, food, publicity and marketing, and even the use of less accurate Covid tests” around the women’s event. The letter calls for the NCAA to honor Title IX, which forbids gender discrimination throughout federally funded education institutions.

“The players on the women’s and men’s teams have not been treated equally by the NCAA,” the letter says. “Such actions are deeply concerning and reflect NCAA’s lack of commitment to the spirit of Title IX to ensure a level playing field for women in athletics that are subsidized with federal financial assistance. Despite having corrected at least some of these infractions, the NCAA’s clear disregard for women cannot be tolerated.”

The NCAA announced Thursday it was “evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue.” It also said it is “examining all championships in all three Divisions to identify any other gaps that need to be addressed, both qualitatively and quantitively, to achieve gender equity.”

Aaliyah Edwards #3 of the UConn Huskies looks to pass against Emily Engstler #21 and Digna Strautmane #45 of the Syracuse Orange during the first half in the second round game of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 23, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas.

Carmen Mandato | Getty Images

The NCAA faced backlash when Oregon player Sedona Prince shared a March 18 video on social media further showing disparities between the men’s and women’s weight room setup.

The organization initially claimed the men’s tournament, held in Indianapolis, had more space for its weight room than the women’s site. Prince’s video garnered viral attention when it showed more than adequate space to emulate the men’s version.

Coaches including South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma also expressed disappointment to the NCAA, who addressed the issue after the social media firestorm.

The NCAA apologized for the incident, prompting Emmert to respond, “this is not something that should have happened and, should we ever conduct a tournament like this again, will ever happen again,” he said via NPR.

Still, members of Congress want more details about the disparities between the men’s and women’s tournament and are asking for the NCAA to respond to questions including the status of any investigation, procedures to avoid unequal treatment and when the organization first became aware of the incident in San Antonio.

The letter asked the NCAA to respond by April 2.

Read the full letter here.

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