NCAA ‘drops the ball’ with March Madness women’s athletic facilities

The+weightroom+for+the+NCAA+Women%27s+Basketball+Tournament%2C+held+in+San+Antonio%2C+TX%2C+had+little+more+than+the+rack+of+dumbbells+found+in+the+LHS+yoga+room.

Madeleine Kemper

The weightroom for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, held in San Antonio, TX, had little more than the rack of dumbbells found in the LHS yoga room.

Madeleine Kemper, Online Editor-in-Chief

With the NCAA March Madness tournament well underway, the remaining teams prepare to battle it out in the Sweet 16. At the start of the tournament, however, quite a bit of attention was drawn away from the competition itself and was directed at controversy concerning the weight room, or lack thereof, provided for the female athletes. 

This issue was first brought to the attention of the public when Oregon Duck center, sophomore Sedona Prince, posted a video to her TikTok account friday, March 19, showcasing the women’s training facilities at San Antonio, where the Women’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament is being held. The video compared the weight room provided for the women, which contained nothing more than a single rack of dumbbells and a stack of yoga mats, to the facilities provided for the men’s tournament in Indiana. Their weight room included an abundance of racks, benches, free weights and of course, dumbbells. 

Over the next 24 hours, clips from this video went viral, being reposted on all social media platforms in an attempt to call for change. This issue even drew the attention of several professional athletes, including Golden State Warrior PG Steph Curry, who showed his support by retweeting the video. 

In an initial response to the social media blast, NCAA Vice President Lynn Holzman released a statement saying that, “[the NCAA] fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare for 64 for teams to be here in San Antonio, and we acknowledge that.” She also claimed that this “lack of preparation” was due to limited space and time, and assured that there would be a full weight room comparable to the men’s for the teams still alive by the Sweet 16.

The inequity did not just stop at the weightroom, however, as the “swag bags” and meals provided were vastly different for the female athletes. This overall lack of amenities provided for the women’s basketball tournament brings up the larger issue that men’s sports seem to be prioritized first. 

After mass criticism from both coaches and athletes, the NCAA upgraded the San Antonio Facilities overnight to match the men’s in both volume of equipment and size. In response to this, Prince made a second TikTok video, touring the updated weightroom with her teammates, saying, “Thank you NCAA for listening to us.”

While the issue at hand was solved rapidly, moving forward, the NCAA and participating members plan to work harder to be fair and hold women’s athletic needs at the same value as men’s.