Gender Equity Examination Continues For NCAA | GMTM

Gender Equity Examination Continues For NCAA

ByAndrew Pistone

Published on Fri Nov 19 2021

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2 min read

Gender Equity Examination Continues For NCAA

As the NCAA continues to assess itself in an effort to make strides towards equality for all student athletes, they’ve retained the law firm of Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLP in order to help identify areas where they might be falling short. KHF delivered a phase one review of the NCAA’s areas for improvement in early August, which centered around the men and women’s NCAA tournaments.

In late October, KHF finalized a second phase of their examination of NCAA policies with regards to gender inequities. A copy of their findings can be found here*, but we will focus on some of the observations and recommendations in the study that are most notable.

One of the more intriguing and quantifiable points the study makes is with regards to men and women’s FTE scoring, or full time equivalent metrics. This attempts to quantify the relative number of full-time resources a sport has, and the study has a table broken down by sport and male/female FTE. In most of the listed sports, the women’s FTE figures fall well below that of their male counterparts.

The study also talks about the type of media coverage men and women’s sports receive, and delves into the decisions ESPN has made in choosing which channels or platforms to broadcast championships. The review notes that for example, in 2020-2021, the network broadcast the men’s lacrosse and outdoor track championships on ESPN2, and they chose to air those same sports on the women’s side on ESPNU. While these decisions don’t entirely fall at the lap of the NCAA, there is a possibility that the next TV contract might be negotiated with more of a focus on balancing premier channel opportunities.

One other observation made by KHF was the notion of joint committees organizing men’s and women’s championships for a particular sport, rather than having two separate committees work on each gender’s title games. One suggestions was to deploy joint committee structures for all sports, so the same people are working on and would be sensitive to differences in men and women’s facilities and opportunity. If the NCAA chose not to go that route, but maintain distinct groups, then KHF advised that a better mechanism for communications between the two factions would need to be established.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and the chances that gender equity is fixed in the next year or two in an acceptable manner is not reasonable. The hope would be that the NCAA takes the study’s findings to heart, and devises a legitimate plan of action over the next decade or two that will help instill confidence that the women’s side of the sporting landscape is being taken seriously and funded appropriately.

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