As the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments tip-off, the organization is facing criticism from female basketball players who say their facilities lack the amenities of their male counterparts.
Ali Kershner, a sports performance coach for the Stanford women’s team was the first to raise concerns on Thursday when she posted a side-by-side comparison of the weight room facilities offered to the men’s teams in NCAA tournament bubble in Indianapolis compared to the weight room for the women at their bubble in San Antonio.
While the men’s facility was equipped with at least a dozen benches and racks in a sprawling room, Kershner’s photo of the women’s facility showed just a single rack of hand-held weights.
“This needs to be addressed. These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” Kershner wrote. “Not only that - 3 weeks in a bubble and no access to DBs above 30’s until the sweet 16? In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”
Later on Thursday, Lynn Holzman — the NCAA’s VP of women’s basketball — released a statement, saying that space has been limited due to the “controlled environment” of the bubble format, and that the workout areas would be expanded as the tournament progressed.
“The original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament,” Holzman said. “However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams.”
“…we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts including additional weight training equipment,” Holzman’s statement concluded.
Statement from Lynn Holzman, NCAA VP of women’s basketball.#ncaaW pic.twitter.com/gYsesS9Hky— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) March 18, 2021
However, other women’s basketball players pushed back on the NCAA’s claim of a lack of space. Sedona Price, a forward for the No. 23-ranked Oregon Ducks, posted a video to TikTok that showed an enormous amount of unused space in the area designated for weight training.
“If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you are a part of it,” Prince said in the video.
Let me put it on Twitter too cause this needs the attention pic.twitter.com/t0DWKL2YHR— Sedona Prince (@sedonaprince_) March 19, 2021
The first round of the NCAA tournament — by far the organization’s most lucrative property — tips off on Friday. It’s the first tournament to take place since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.