Lawmakers rip Emmert, demand more progress on NCAA fairness

Three congressional lawmakers have sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert accusing the organization of making “insufficient progress” in addressing the “historically disparate” treatment of male and female athletes.

Singled out March Madness basketball tournaments, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York, Jackie Speier of California, and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey said the NCAA “violated the spirit of gender equity as codified in the Title IX”.

They blamed Emmert for failing to implement some of the key recommendations of the external review the NCAA commissioned last summer after the inequities between men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were exposed a year ago. year. The NCAA said last month it had taken significant steps to address the issues.

“The shortcomings of last year’s women’s basketball tournament were well documented and extensively covered,” the NCAA said Tuesday in a statement emailed in response to the lawmakers’ letter. “While our work is not done, we are focused on the many improvements made since then that provide students from all of our leagues with a lifetime memorable experience.”

The letter, which was sent just days before the start of this year’s tournaments, notes that the NCAA “has failed to create or commit to creating a business manager position to oversee partner relations. NCAA media with CBS/Turner and ESPN, the commercial partner”. Programme, branding and marketing for all championships.

Lawmakers also said Emmert has made no progress on changing the leadership structure that would see NCAA women’s basketball vice president Lynn Holzman report directly to him instead of passing by. by NCAA basketball senior vice president Dan Gavitt.

The NCAA has already made changes to its women’s basketball tournament this year. Many changes were relatively easy to make, such as expanding the tournament to 68 teams and using the phrase “March Madness” – once limited to the men’s tournament – ​​in branding.

The organization admits there is still a lot of work to do. Earlier this year, the NCAA announced that it would not combine the two Final Fours, which was a recommendation from the Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP report. There are other possibilities, including potentially moving one of the two Final Fours to a different weekend.

The women’s tournament is imminent – or a new deal – for television rights, the lifeblood of hundreds of schools. On the men’s side, CBS and Turner’s initial contract with the NCAA was for 14 years at $10.8 billion ($770 million per year). They signed an eight-year extension in 2016 that gives them the rights until 2032, and the annual average will increase to $1.1 billion from 2025.


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