The NCAA has hired an outside law firm to review gender equity issues in its athletic championships after numerous complaints pointed out inequities in facilities and amenities between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
In a statement issued Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the organization has hired Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP “to evaluate our practices and policies and provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better.” On its website, the firm says that one of its specialties is employment and discrimination matters, including Title IX and gender equity cases.
“The NCAA will continue to aggressively address material and impactful differences between the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” Emmert said. “While many of the operational issues identified have been resolved, we must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports. As part of this effort, we are evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue.” Since the start of the tournaments, players, media and coaches have pointed to discrepancies in training facilities available for women’s basketball players, when compared with those available to the men. Similar discrepancies were noted in the gifts presented to players as well as the facilities in which the women’s programs played in.
Sedona Prince, who plays for Oregon, posted a TikTok calling out the disparity between amenities, writing in her caption: “it’s 2021 and we are still fighting for bits and pieces of equality. #ncaa #inequality #fightforchange.” “I have made clear that Kaplan Hecker and the staff supporting them will have direct access to the Board of Governors to discuss any issue that may arise during their work while Kaplan Hecker is conducting this review and assessment,” Emmert said in the statement.
“While it is still very early in the process, we hope to have these preliminary assessments in late April, with a final report this summer after all of our championships are completed.”