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NCAA sends out a terrible message with Women’s Tournament vs. Gentlemen

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It would be funny how determined the NCAA seems to be to show how little respect it has for the Division I basketball players if it weren’t so damn insulting to those same women, not to mention the coaches and staff who work together dedicate their lives to reaching the national championship tournament.

Because at this point, after days of backlash not only from those college athletes, but from retired Hall of Fame coaches sports icons, and current coaches who were Hall of Famers as players, and not just apologies from the NCAA leadership, but ongoing disdain, there’s no assumption, other than that this is all intentional.

On Sunday, 16 games were played in the first round, with all four No. 1 seeds in action.

But when you visit the NCAA’s password-protected digital media hub to access things like post-game Zoom conferences and action shots, there wasn’t a single photo from any of those games.

No photos of UConn freshman Paige Beuckers, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the Huskies’ defeat of High Point. No photos of Syracuse’s inspiring cancer-fighting security guard Tiana Mangakahia delivering one of her seven assists against the state of South Dakota. No shots of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley directing her players in their 26-point win over Mercer.

At the time of writing, the only thing available for media to download is the logo for this year’s San Antonio bubble tournament.

Unsurprisingly, there are 222 photos from the second round of the men’s tournament alone, plus hundreds more from the first four and the first round.

Whether it's facilities, meals, or media access, the NCAA oversees the rampant disparities between the women's and men's basketball tournament.  (Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)

Whether it’s facilities, meals, or media access, the NCAA oversees the rampant disparities between the women’s and men’s basketball tournament. (Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)

According to the NCAA, photos and transcripts of interviews will not be available for the women’s games to the Sweet 16 games and beyond, with the organization claiming this is not the case the staff and the budget to cover every round of every championship.

That’s a choice, another terrible choice for an organization full of it.

There were photographers at the Men’s First Four, but not for the first two rounds of the women’s tournament. The NCAA tells even the best women’s programs they are not important enough to spend resources on, but a No. 16 vs. No. 16 play-in-game between Texas Southern and Mount St. Mary’s is.

No offense to those two schools, but really?

And once again the NCAA chooses to cover the women’s tournament, which in non-COVID times has meant sold-out arenas and a growing television audience, and is part of a package that pays ESPN $ 500 million to have the rights to get rid of nuisance. love, like something has instead of doing something it want while it should do everything it can to promote both the women and the men.

Here’s the thing: the way the ecosystem works, if there’s no game information to distribute, the media can’t spread it. If there are no transcripts and photos of the Georgia Tech-Stephen F. Austin overtime game, it makes it a lot harder for one of the smaller outlets that might otherwise make up a story about the game to do that.

If you make it difficult for the media to publish stories and pictures of women’s games, they will not get media attention, so they miss an opportunity to increase interest and the audience.

(And at the very least, you cash-sucking empty suits, the more interest there is, the more money the NCAA can get from ESPN or some other network, money it doesn’t give to the players who actually play the games these networks broadcast.)

Do you see how that works?

In case you need proof, at some point on Sunday, four of the top five sports stories on the Washington Post website were about women’s basketball. Kind of a “if you write it, they’ll read” kind of deal.

I would recommend NCAA head Mark Emmert and Co. tell them to pay attention, but even shame has little effect on their embarrassingly bad behavior. Emmert already tried to excuse away something as blatant as using less accurate COVID antigen tests for the women versus using PCR tests for the men, so it seems too much to ask to pay a few young aspiring sports photographers to spend a week in the Spend women bubble for the opening rounds, or jump for a transcription service, or make sure a nursing mother those who may be in the bubble for a month, don’t have to choose between her baby and her job.

Like Billie Jean King posted on Twitter on Friday, the days when female athletes expected to accept crumbs are long gone. We deserve equality and equality, especially from an organization that claims to encourage the well-being and success of all athletes playing at the affiliated institutions.

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