By Dylan Manfre
After seeing the disparities in treatment during the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Council of Presidents released a statement supporting the NCAA’s independent review of inequitable treatment.
The presidents authorized a request that the NCAA “support an independent review,” of the inequality by the NCAA.
Issues of inequality between the two tournaments went viral on social media when Oregon women’s basketball forward Sedona Prince posted videos and pictures of the equipment and space designated for the men’s weight room versus the women’s weight room. Her posts, which had over 17 million views, show a drastic difference in the number of weights and overall equipment available to use.
“It’s evident we dropped the ball in supporting women’s athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a news release on March 31.
ESPN quoted Emmert, who spoke with the Associated Press saying, “We should have had better communication between my teams.”
The MAAC Council of Presidents said in the release that there is “systemic” unequal treatment of women’s sports and female athletes.
“Obviously,” MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor responded when asked if there was inequality during the tournament. “There’s a long laundry list of kinds of issues that are related to that and how it can be rectified.”
Ensor said the Council of Presidents wants the investigation done by a “third party” who will not directly report to the NCAA. The association will be “retaining” the law firm Kaplan Hecker to conduct the investigation, according to a statement from Emmert.
“The question is how transparent is the process going to be and will the full report be shared with the membership,” Ensor said. “Or is this going to be something that the law firm provides to the NCAA leadership and then they don’t share the details?”
One inequality Ensor noted was the difference in court branding during the two tournaments. The men’s basketball tournament flaunted the popular term “March Madness,” which is synonymous with postseason college basketball everywhere, while the women’s court said “Women’s Basketball.”
He joked and said, “as if we couldn’t figure that out by ourselves.”
Rider’s basketball teams acknowledged the glaring inequality at the tournament as well. Assistant men’s basketball coach Marlon Guild called it “obvious.” Guild has a 15-year-old daughter who plays basketball in high school. He said his daughter was in “disbelief” with the disparities between the tournaments.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lynn Milligan was on a large webinar with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) which had prominent women’s basketball coaches, along with Emmert.
“I think they were all a bit embarrassed about what happened,” Milligan said. “I feel like they’re realizing some of the error in their ways.”
When asked if there is any inequality between the men’s and women’s basketball programs at Rider, Milligan said “No,” paused, and said “no,” again.
Ensor added he did not have any conversations with Marist Head Coach Brian Giorgis, who represented the MAAC in the NCAA tournament in San Antonio, Texas, but said Giorgis “isn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call me.”