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Friday, December 02, 2022

Emmert claims progress in women’s NCAAs, not close to pay

MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) – A year after screaming inequalities were revealed during the NCAA Women’s Tournament and less than two weeks after sharp criticism from CongressNCAA President Mark Emmert said on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the institution’s progress, but said there were only “preliminary discussions” about the distribution of tournament revenue to women’s programs.

Emmert said the work ahead to improve conditions for women’s basketball includes negotiating a new television contract for the women’s tournament and possibly a similar revenue-sharing protocol as the men’s event.

Emmert was careful not to ask for specific changes prior to discussions by the NCAA’s hundreds of member schools, and he declined to offer his own position.

“It depends on the schools and what they want to do in that regard,” he said at the venue of the final four for women in Minneapolis. “It’s a complicated relationship, because the championships on the men’s side, the relative weight moving forward in the tournament have been reduced over time. Those in the membership who think there should not be so much emphasis on winning in the tournament. “

Sending money to the women’s programs is something coaches have been shouting about. Men’s conferences receive hundreds of thousands of dollars per tournament match involving one of their teams, money which they then redistribute to schools. There is no such system on the women’s side.

Emmert said the adoption of such a payment structure would not be a quick fix and would require approval from several NCAA committees.

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“There are really only preliminary discussions about it,” he said. “I would hope that these are decisions that can be made, for example, within the next calendar year. If by this time next year there is an idea of ​​a direction to go in, it will be great. ”

Emmert said it would not mean it could be implemented immediately.

“There’s no reason why they could not start that debate and that discussion,” he said. “But this is a very challenging debate among the schools. Once you start talking about how you are going to allocate resources, it is difficult. ”

It’s easier to pay the men thanks to the NCAA’s agreement with CBS and Turner. The original contract averaged $ 770 million per year with an extension in 2016 raising the average per year to $ 1.1 billion in 2025.

The women’s tournament is currently being bundled with other women’s championships for TV rights. The current contract with ESPN is until 2024. ESPN gives each game in this tournament its own window on one of its channels, with four games on ABC for a second consecutive year.

“Of course, it’s in everyone’s interest in university sports to maximize an income that you can produce from media contracts, while acknowledging that you want to balance it by making sure you get the right coverage, too,” Emmert said. “Of course, it’s not just about money.”

A law firm hired to review gender equality issues at NCAA Championship events last summer outlined differences between the men’s and women’s events in a blower report. This came after 2021 posts on social media, especially those of Oregon forward Sedona Prince, exposed some of the glaring inequalities.

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Three lawmakers sent a letter to Emmert this month accusing the organization of making “insufficient progress” in addressing “historically diverse” treatment of male and female athletes.

Emmert and NCAA Vice President for Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman point to positive changes this year it included the use of the phrase “March Madness” for the women’s tournament and the expansion of the field to 68 teams to equal the men.

“Attending the rounds leading up to the final four for women, we set records with that,” Holzman said. “The ratings by our ESPN broadcast partner also set records, but it’s all a testament to women’s basketball, the on-campus leadership with our coaches, the administration, and most importantly, our student-athletes.”

Both Emmert and Holzman said many of the changes adapted this year were more behind-the-scenes pieces centered around brands and things that were meaningful to the student-athletes.

“Many of the efforts are not particularly visible, and they are indeed not necessarily aimed at this particular year,” he said. “But to make sure we have a sustainable and embedded model that provides the kind of continuity of these championships that moves forward.”

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More Associated Press coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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