The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association reached out to NCAA President Mark Emmert last Thursday to discuss the inequities between how the NCAA conducts the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments but has yet to receive a response, the association’s executive director said Tuesday.
Danielle Donehew, who has led the WBCA since 2014, called the disparity in facilities, support and branding between the two tournaments “symptoms of a much larger attitude that women’s sports are second-class to their men’s counterparts.”
“It presents itself through messaging that is usually subtle, sometimes overt, but always noticeable and demoralizing to student-athletes, coaches and everyone else who sees women’s basketball on the brink of great success,” Donehew said. “This is a longstanding, deeply ingrained, systemic problem. It is not one that just happened to occur last week.”
For that reason, she continued, the WBCA would not accept the internal review of all NCAA championships “conducted by a law firm of the NCAA’s choosing.”
“Instead, the WBCA calls for an independent inquiry conducted by a commission composed of persons upon whom the WBCA and NCAA will agree, supported by outside legal counsel, retained by the commission itself and fully funded by the NCAA.”
The inquiry must review the NCAA’s organizational structure and how the governing body oversees women’s and men’s sports, as well as evaluate how the two championship events are staff and funded, Donehew said.
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Pictures posted online comparing the training facilities, player gifts and food services at the women’s tournament in San Antonio and men’s tournament in Indianapolis largely overshadowed the opening rounds of both events.
“We are a valuable asset that has consistently earned the right to be marketed, promoted and conducted as a great championship rather than an afterthought,” Georgia Tech coach Nell Fortner said last week.
“For too long, women’s basketball has accepted the attitude and treatment from the NCAA that has been substandard in its championships. It’s time for this to stop. It’s time for women’s basketball to receive the treatment it has earned.”