NCAA to Use March Madness Branding for Women’s Tournament

Amy-Grace Shapiro, Feature Editor

This season, March Madness branding will be used in the Division I Women’s basketball tournament. 

After last year’s controversy surrounding the disparity between the men’s and women’s tournaments, the NCAA released a gender equity report in August displaying differences in the tournaments. The report acknowledged that the underlying cause was the Association’s prioritization of the men’s games in all aspects.

The report, founded by civil rights attorney Roberta Kaplan, focused on inequities in basketball after players and coaches from several teams came forward, criticizing the NCAA for inadequate facilities and amenities at the women’s tournament.

The report provided several recommendations on how to move forward in a more equitable way, including changes in leadership structure, annual real-time audits of both tournaments with accessible results and hosting both Final Fours in the same city. 

Although the NCAA has yet to announce how much of the March Madness branding will be used in the women’s games, the committee unanimously agreed to scratch the simple “Women’s Basketball” trademark from the courts and replace them with “March Madness.” 

Moreover, the NCAA national office has implemented a zero-based budgeting method for the two championships. Last year, the budget was adjustable from day-to-day, whereas this year, the men’s and women’s basketball championships each start from scratch when determining expenses. Each budget must be justifiable and approved upfront for each new period. In theory, this would allow the two programs to be more financially equal. 

The Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees and Oversight Committees now conduct regular joint meetings for better collaboration and cohesiveness between the two championships. Additionally, in August, the council assigned committees within the NCAA to evaluate recommendations from the gender equity report. The committees meet regularly and are working to assess the practicality of implementing the recommendations.

The report also found an issue with the difference in bracket size between the tournaments. The women’s bracket only has 64 teams, whereas the men’s counterpart had 68 teams.

The review also calls for yearly assessment of the next five years. Phase II of the Kaplan report plans to examine gender equity in NCAA championships other than basketball.

The Women’s Final Four will play in Minneapolis from April 1-3, 2022, and the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament ends with the National Championship Game in New Orleans on April 4, 2022.