Connecticut and South Carolina walked to the women’s title game in Minneapolis, and along the way they didn’t earn a dime from the NCAA that they might be able to spend on scholarships, sports facilities or other charges.
But Kansas and North Carolina, the men’s championship teams on Monday night, have likely each earned at least $10 million in their league in recent weeks.
With the men’s Division I tournament generating multimillion-dollar prize money, women’s basketball coaches and their allies believe administrators are far more likely to invest in men’s teams than women’s teams, which doesn’t pay off. not to their NCAA straight money leagues, even though they are among the best in the country.
The disparity in the NCAA’s financial arrangements has existed for decades, with the association awarding “units” that over time grow into millions of dollars as teams reach and then progress through the men’s event.
Today, the future of the system is the subject of an increasingly intense debate within the college sports industry, which has drawn public fury and scrutiny from Congress after players in the tournament last year’s men’s event received better equipment and facilities than the athletes who competed in the women’s event. The NCAA has taken steps over the past year to promote and improve conditions at the women’s event; this year, for example, was the first time the association rolled out its “March Madness” brand for the women’s tournament.
But those changes are, in relative terms, tiny next to potential changes to the NCAA’s payout structure.
“I really think to really make changes we need to have a similar unit structure,” said Tara VanDerveer, who won three national championships as a women’s coach at Stanford. “I mean, I love the crowd. I love the signage.”
But, she added, “I think the bottom line is that it’s a TV package and it’s a unitary structure. When it happens, we’ll know it’s serious.
NCAA President Mark Emmert declined to say last week whether he supported an overhaul, but said it was “important” that the schools that govern the association consider changes. At least one NCAA committee is studying the matter.