Maloney, Speier, and Sherrill Call on NCAA to Prioritize Gender Equity Following Release of Second Report
Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, senior Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus Rep. Jackie Speier, and Rep. Mikie Sherrill, issued the following statements after the release of the second report detailing the findings of the external gender equity review of more than two dozen National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s and men’s championship programs.
“For decades NCAA leadership, including its current President Mark Emmert, has failed generations of female college athletes by disproportionately funneling resources into the men’s sports it views as the most profitable,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. “These inequities result from the broken organizational structure and regressive culture of NCAA, which create a vicious cycle where the sports—and particularly women’s sports—with the most potential for growth are stymied by NCAA’s inequitable investments. We can no longer tolerate NCAA’s undervaluation of women’s sports which has allowed gender inequities to pervade its championship events. To ensure that NCAA will implement meaningful gender equity reforms across all sports and championship events, I have called on Mr. Emmert and other NCAA officials to brief Committee Members on the status of NCAA’s implementation of the report’s recommendations and to keep the Committee apprised of the steps it will take to achieve gender equity going forward.”
“Today’s second phase review of all NCAA sports, excluding men’s and women’s basketball, confirms yet again what we already know: gender inequities are rampant in nearly all sports,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “The men’s baseball teams get ‘showers, off days, massages, and a festive dinner,’ while the women’s softball teams ‘get doubleheaders and sweaty bus rides back to a hotel.’ It all comes to greed for profits and the same calculus that led the NCAA to callously invest far more in men’s basketball championships over women’s basketball championships. The NCAA perpetuates gender inequality instead of laying the groundwork for women’s success. NCAA’s failure to even sponsor a championship for women athletes until 1981, over 75 years after the association was founded, means women’s teams have been playing catch up ever since. NCAA needs to wake up, join the 21st Century, and even the playing field once and for all. As the report notes, it can be done.”
“The findings of the second phase of this gender equity review are clear: there is systemic inequity within the NCAA,” said Rep. Sherrill. “The organization continuously prioritizes profits over its responsibility to protect and provide equal treatment to all of its athletes. The NCAA has repeatedly failed generation after generation of women athletes and has refused to take the steps necessary to rectify it. I am thankful to the Oversight Committee for its continued commitment to ensure gender equity in sports and its work to rectify the inequities faced by female athletes. It’s time that the NCAA live up to its responsibility to follow the spirit of Title IX and stop tolerating gender discrimination.”
Today’s report is the second of two reports, commissioned by NCAA and conducted by Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLP, examining gender equity across NCAA’s championship programs. While the first report, released on August 3, 2021, compared NCAA’s treatment of its women’s and men’s basketball tournaments, today’s report reviewed 84 NCAA championships across 23 sports.
Today’s report revealed that in the last 40 years, “women’s sports have effectively been playing catch up at the NCAA,” due in large part to NCAA’s prioritization of a number of men’s championship programs it views as “revenue producing.”
The report described the gender inequities that exist in NCAA’s non-basketball championships as “disappointing,” but “not a surprise.” Today’s report aligns with the findings of NCAA’s own internal gender equity review—conducted earlier this year—which reportedly found gender disparities in nine out of the 23 sports for which it holds both women’s and men’s championship events.
Today’s report further details “significant gender disparities” in many aspects of NCAA’s non-basketball programs, including disparities in per-athlete expenditures and corporate sponsorship opportunities. While the disparities at the Division II and III levels and in other sports are less pronounced than in NCAA’s Division I basketball programs, today’s report confirms that “NCAA’s simultaneous failure to put in place systems to identify, prevent, and address gender inequities across its championships has allowed gender disparities in these and other sports to persist for too long.”
On March 25, 2021, Rep. Sherrill led 37 Members of Congress in sending a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert expressing deep concerns and seeking more information about gender disparities in this year’s NCAA championship tournaments.
On June 29, 2021, Rep. Speier and Rep. Sherrill led more than a dozen Members, including Chairwoman Maloney, in introducing a resolution to affirm that NCAA is subject to Title IX and that it must take action to prevent sex discrimination in its activities and programs.
On July 6, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney, Rep. Speier, and Rep. Sherrill requested documents from NCAA regarding gender inequities in collegiate sports and the steps NCAA is taking to address these problems.
On August 3, 2021, the Members of Congress called on NCAA to take action after the first phase of the gender equity review revealed that women athletes have been subjected to inferior athletic experiences “as the result of systemic gender equity issues at the NCAA.” The Committee also released documents showing that while the 2021 gender equity review is at least the fifth review of its type commissioned by NCAA since 1992, similar patterns of systemic gender inequities have consistently appeared in gender equity reports commissioned by NCAA over the last three decades.