Gender equity review: NCAA’s focus on revenue drives inequity


The NCAA’s organizational structure and culture contributes to gender inequity by prioritizing revenue-producing sports, according to a report published Tuesday. The report was the second of a two-phase external review of the NCAA’s approach to men’s and women’s sports, conducted by law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.

Phase I of the review, released in August, focused on men’s and women’s basketball and specifically the Division I championship tournaments, finding that the NCAA prioritized men’s basketball “over everything else in ways that create, normalize and perpetuate gender inequities.” Phase II focused on all other sports and found a similar pattern, especially in sports where the men’s and women’s championships were perceived to have a wide difference in revenue production.

“The same structural and cultural issues that impact Division I basketball pervade the NCAA and have shaped its treatment of other championships,” the report stated. “The NCAA membership’s heavy reliance on the money it receives from NCAA revenue distributions has placed pressure on the NCAA to maximize that revenue and minimize spending so that more funds can be distributed to the membership.

“For the vast majority of NCAA sports, the result is that the men’s and women’s championships of like sports are resourced equitably (albeit perhaps minimally). But for sports in which one championship is viewed as producing significantly more revenue than its gender counterpart, stark differences in spending and staffing emerge, leading to inequitable student-athlete experiences in those championships.

The report said it found the “greatest resource disparities and resulting gender inequities” in Division I baseball, men’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse and wrestling, and their women’s counterparts. It also found that the structure of NCAA’s media agreements encourages these disparities because the media rights are bundled with the men’s basketball championship.

Among the recommendations from the review are for the NCAA to:

  • Evaluate and reward performance for contributions to gender equity
  • Increase staff with Title IX and gender equity expertise
  • Create a new senior position to focus on marketing in a gender equitable manner
  • Build a broad strategy to realize the value of the women’s basketball championship and other NCAA championships

“These changes may require altering budgets and business models while evaluating the balance between resources devoted to championships that produce revenue and resources for those that do not,” the NCAA Board of Governors said in a statement. “We have directed the NCAA president to continue engaging the appropriate governance groups in all three divisions to evaluate the recommendations, identify next steps and provide timely input for how issues outlined in the report can be addressed.”

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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Read More: Gender equity review: NCAA’s focus on revenue drives inequity 2021-10-26 23:21:12

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