“The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”
“Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport,” said Texas-San Antonio athletics director and committee chair Lisa Campos, “and the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.”
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“Women’s basketball has grown tremendously over the past several years, and we remain focused on our priority of enhancing and growing the game,” said Lynn Holzman, the NCAA vice president of women’s basketball.
Use of the “March Madness” phrase has historically been reserved for the men’s tournament. The move received unanimous support from the Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee, the NCAA said.
The NCAA will also use a “zero-based budgeting method” for the women’s and men’s championships, a shift from the traditional approach of adjusting budgets for these championship events from the previous fiscal year.
This change is geared “toward increasing opportunities for planning collaboration and cross-promotion, as well as making the two championships more financially equitable,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Issued in August by the firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, which specializes in employment and discrimination matters, the report on gender inequity came after a flood of social media posts highlighting the different treatment of athletes at the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. These posts showed how teams at the men’s tournament were given better food, workout areas, recreation space and gifts compared to their counterparts in the women’s bracket.
In addition to the recommendation related to branding, the report concluded that the NCAA’s model for revenue distribution “prioritizes and rewards investment in men’s basketball,” and the NCAA should “maximize value through gender equity” by marketing the women’s tournament as a “stand-alone property.” “The primary reason, we believe, is that the gender inequities at the NCAA — and specifically within the NCAA Division I basketball championships — stem from the structure and systems of the NCAA itself, which are designed to maximize the value of and support to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship as the primary source of funding for the NCAA and its membership,” the report found.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg