South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley took NCAA president Mark Emmert to task Friday over disparities in provisions for the men’s and women’s tournaments.
“What we now know is the NCAA’s season long message about ‘togetherness’ and ‘equality’ was about convenience and a soundbite for the moment created after the murder of George Floyd,” she said on Twitter.
Photos on social media showed a full weight room at the men’s tournament in Indianapolis, while the women’s tournament in San Antonio had a rack of weights and some yoga mats in an empty ballroom. There were also disparities in tournament swag and quality of food.
“There is no answer that the NCAA executive leadership led by Mark Emmert can give to explain the disparities,” said Staley, whose team is a No. 1 seed at the tournament, which starts Sunday in San Antonio. “Mark Emmert and his team point blank chose to create them! The real issue is not the weights or the ‘swag’ bags. It’s that they did not think or do not think that the women’s players “deserve” the same amenities of the men.”
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She also took issue with the official March Madness Twitter account including the tagline: “The Official NCAA March Madness destination for all things Division I/NCAA Men’s Basketball.”
“Those words mean one thing – March Madness is ONLY about men’s basketball,” she said. “How do we explain that to our players? How can an organization that claims to care about ALL member institutions’ student-athlete experiences have a copyrighted item that only ‘represents’ one gender?”
Staley, who had a Hall of Fame playing career, has coached women’s college basketball for 20 years, including the past 12 years at South Carolina. She won a national title in 2017 and is a two-time coach of the year.
“Every team here in San Antonio has earned and deserves at a minimum the same level of respect as the men,” she said. “All the teams here dealt with the same issues as the men’s teams this season, yet their ‘reward’ is different.
“Women’s basketball is a popular sport whose stock and presence continues to rise on a global level. It is sad that the NCAA is not willing to recognize and invest in our growth despite its claims of togetherness and equality. … (It is) time for the NCAA leadership to reevaluate the value they place on women.”
Follow Mike Brehm on Twitter @ByMikeBrehm