The NCAA has completely botched the women’s basketball tourney.
Amid mounting pressure from players, coaches and administrators over differences between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, NCAA President Mark Emmert on Tuesday wrote that he would be calling for “an independent review” of the processes that led to the disparities.
Emmert’s letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, arrived in the wake of sharpening criticism that started late last week when players took to social media to note the differences between what men’s and women’s participants were being provided in terms of meals, fitness facilities and even coronavirus testing. NCAA officials acknowledged those differences as an “operational miss” and sought to remedy some of them, but that did little to stem a steady tide of outrage.
No doubt Emmert expects a little paper-overing should do the trick, at least in the short run. The problem he’s got is that it hasn’t gone unnoticed in certain quarters.
Controversy over gender disparities at college basketball’s marquee tournaments reached Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as a group of 36 House Democrats demanded answers of NCAA President Mark Emmert and soccer star Megan Rapinoe called out NCAA officials in a congressional hearing.
In a letter to Emmert, the lawmakers asked for a review of the NCAA’s other championships and raised questions about the organization’s role in fueling inequity in college sports, a sign that scrutiny of the NCAA is likely to expand beyond this month’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
… The House Democrats’ letter, which was provided to The Washington Post, asks Emmert to review “all other championship competitions to ensure that they adhere to the gender equity principles of Title IX,” the landmark gender equity law that bars discrimination on college campuses. It demands a breakdown of the resources the NCAA uses to investigate and identify gender disparities at its member colleges.
Not a good look when you’re trying to argue with a straight face that the status quo, economically speaking, is worth defending because of the opportunities it provides to college athletes in non-revenue producing sports.
That all being said, the cynic in me concedes that may not be career threatening. After all, shamefaced hypocrisy is a big reason Emmert has the job he has. This, though, is an entirely different can of worms.
All those are going to pale in comparison to what promises to be Emmert’s defining legacy of incompetence at the NCAA, a mistake that’s going to likely cost the association more than $3.5 billion in upcoming years. In 2016, the NCAA had eight years left on its NCAA tournament television contract with CBS and Turner and decided not to take it to market.
Instead, the NCAA extended the deal until 2032 at a modest increase of less than 3% annually. At the time, Emmert took a victory lap in the media, saying that uncertainties in the “evolving media landscape” led to the extension.
Well, the landscape has evolved. And those who trade in the television business have declared it a failure of vision, destined to go down as one of the worst sports television deals in modern athletic history. History will remember CBS and Turner executives wearing a ski mask in those negotiations, as the deal is already considered a bargain with more than a decade remaining. By the time it expires in 2032, Emmert will be remembered as having left billions on the table. [Emphasis added.]
There are a lot of forgivable sins in college athletics, but fucking up broadcast revenue deals isn’t one of them. Just ask Larry Scott.
Have fun, Mark.