he NCAA has a list of everything that will be different about the Division I women’s basketball tournament this year. It’s the smallest entries on the list that are the most remarkable.
In a presentation given to media in early March, NCAA basketball leadership was sure to mention some changes that were almost comically specific: When the men get a gift box that includes a notebook, a sleeveless hoodie and a baseball cap, the women will now get a gift box that includes a notebook
a sleeveless hoodie and a baseball cap. And: The women will have a yogurt bar and a pasta station to match the men’s yogurt bar and pasta station.
At the Final Four, the women will now have lounges that include a Ping-Pong table, three big-screen televisions and 28 pillows, just like the men at the Final Four.
“On the one hand, you’re like, Thank you. You know, the players don’t have to feel less-than in those areas anymore, so you do want to say thank you,” says UCLA women’s basketball coach Cori Close.
“And on the other hand, you want to go, Really? Like, really, it took a major crisis and millions of dollars spent on analysis to come up with, We need to treat them the same?”
A year after the NCAA met with controversy for its disparate handling of the men’s and women’s tournaments, it announced a suite of moves designed to change the experience. That comes after significant outcry and an independent gender equity review by a law firm
People around the game hope this is only the start: They’re glad to see the swag bags and lounges will now be the same. But there are far bigger organizational topics left to tackle.