The NCAA is being accused of unequal treatment of the men's and women's players at the NCAA tournament bubble environments around Indianapolis and San Antonio after photos have surfaced online of vast differences between the treatment and workout facilities, meal size and meal availability and swag bags. Many, including Kyrie Irving and Geno Auriemma, have called out the NCAA, disappointed in how obvious the contrast of treatment is and many other major names in sports have joined the conversations, calling it unacceptable.
The NCAA's committee for women's athletics wrote a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert on Friday voicing their concerns and asking why there were these discrepancies in the first place.
Emmert responded, calling the situation "inexcusable," but saying the committees communicated less due to COVID-19. "But let me be clear,'' he continued (via The Athletic), "This is a miss. The communication clearly should have been there.''
Suzette McQueen, who chairs the NCAA Committee on women's athletics and wrote the letter to Emmert said of his response, "The NCAA has acknowledged that this is 'disrespectful.' In the committee's view, it is more than that. It undermines the NCAA's authority as a proponent and guarantor of Title IX protections, and it sets women's college athletics back across the country."
NEW: The NCAA's committee on women's athletics sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert today demanding an independent investigation into disparities at the basketball tournaments.— Molly Hensley-Clancy (@mollyhc) March 19, 2021
The situation "sets women's college athletics back across the country," the letter says. pic.twitter.com/MJKzPNGiML
Others from the NCAA have commented on the situation, taking ownership and acknowledging that it is a major issue.
"I apologize to the women's basketball student-athletes, to the coaches, women's basketball committee for dropping the ball, frankly on the weight room issue in San Antonio," said Dan Gavitt, who is the Senior Vice President of Basketball at the NCAA and oversees both tournaments. "I apologize and feel terrible about anything that falls short of our lofty expectations ... We'll get that fixed as soon as possible."
There is word yet on the specific changes he or the NCAA plans to make to fix the situation or when it will be fixed.
NCAA Vice President of Women's Basketball Lynn Holzman said also responded saying, "We fell short this year in what we were doing to prepare ... We acknowledge that."
Nets star Kyrie Irving weighed in on his Instagram story after seeing the images from San Antonio.
Irving said, "We can't tolerate this! They deserve more!"
A host of WNBA superstars who starred in this this tournament in the past shared their thoughts on the men's tournament receiving superior amenities.
they deserve so much better!! Do better!! Period.— A'ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) March 18, 2021
Ncaa mbb tournament vibes: We are happy to have you here— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) March 19, 2021
Ncaa wbb tournament vibes: You should be happy you’re here
Conditions must improve for women in these Bubble situations— Angel McCoughtry (@angel_35) March 19, 2021
Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma said this is not the first time he has seen something like this.
He said on Zoom:
"This has been, for me, as long as I've been in women's basketball, this has been a lifelong issue. This isn't something new that just kinda cropped up. You can make a case that it's never been fair, it's never been equitable. And not that life is supposed to be fair, and not that you expect things to magically be rectified and say 'yeah, we see inequity and we're gonna fix it.' The world doesn't move that way."
Auriemma is not at the tournament coaching the Huskies after testing positive for COVID-19 -- UConn is a No. 1 seed in San Antonio -- but he met with the media virtually and expressed how upsetting he felt the differences are to him.
"It's disappointing when the players. ... feel as though there are things that could have been done, should be done, should be happening that aren't happening, and it's disappointing to hear that, because the NCAA Tournament is supposed to be the culmination of a player's season and sometimes their career," Auriemma said.
"But what's happening at the NCAA level, I think, it's really – that's a small sample, what's happening. That's a small sample of what occurs every single day on every college campus, pretty much, throughout this country," Auriemma added.