Emmert promises WBCA he will work to fix 'stark' inequities

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

NCAA President Mark Emmert watches the first half of a college basketball game between North Carolina State and South Florida in the second round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO – NCAA President Mark Emmert promised the Women's Basketball Coaches Association he will work with coaches to fix the “stark difference” between the Division I men's and women's tournaments.

While Emmert noted that a major hurdle was trying to hold both basketball tournaments in a kind of identical format required by the coronavirus pandemic, he added nobody liked the results and nobody wants to see similar issues crop up in other sports in coming months.

“I, too, believe that it’s exactly the right moment to do it,” Emmert said. “You got my commitment, my personal commitment to spend an enormous amount of time and energy on on this problem and and making sure that we don’t lose the chance.”

Emmert and the NCAA's heads of basketball Dan Gavitt and Lynn Holzman discussed the conditions in San Antonio on Wednesday with members of the WBCA, including two of the Final Four coaches — UConn's Geno Auriemma and Dawn Staley of South Carolina.

Several differences surfaced over the past two weeks, starting with female players, coaches and staff in San Antonio criticizing the NCAA for not initially providing a full weight-training area to the women’s teams, noting the men’s teams in Indianapolis did not have the same problem.

Questions during the coaches' meeting with Emmert ranged from the use of “March Madness” for branding, the number of NCAA staffers for both basketball tournaments (12 for the men, six for the women), the budget for both tournaments and why the NCAA doesn't own the WNIT as it does the NIT.

The WBCA sent a letter to Emmert last week saying the external review he proposed to look into potential gender equity issues wasn't good enough. In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, the WBCA asked for a “Commission on Gender Inequity in College Sports” led by people chosen by both the WBCA and NCAA.

Staley asked for assurances that the law firm hired by the NCAA to review potential gender equity issues is truly independent.