Two lawmakers, Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Maria Salazar (R-FL) introduced a bipartisan bill to address and promote fairness and equity in women’s sports.
The NCAA Women in Sports Act (WINS) would establish a 16-member congressional commission to study equality in the operation of tournaments and other NCAA programs for which there are men’s and women’s divisions. The commission will present a final report with policy recommendations the NCAA should adopt to promote equality and equity between men’s and women’s programs and reforms Congress should consider to improve oversight of equality in the NCAA.
According to the text of the bill, the commission’s report to Congress must include:
(1) A comparison of the NCAA’s treatment of men’s and women’s teams in postseason tournaments and other programs, including venues and equipment provided for games and practices; lodging and transportation; media contracts; licensees, sponsors and general budgets.
(2) An analysis of the NCAA constitution and policies affecting equality between men’s and women’s varsity sports teams.
(3) An overview of the federal government’s support for the NCAA and recommendations for improving federal oversight of the NCAA’s advocacy for equality.
The bipartisan commission will be comprised of members appointed by the leadership of the US House of Representatives and Senate, with special consideration for individuals with experience or professional expertise in college sports, equity, or Title IX compliance, and those who have been college athletes, coaches or sports administrators. .
“The NCAA has made some progress in correcting the most obvious gender inequities within Division I basketball championships, but far more significant organizational issues remain to be addressed,” Sherrill said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation is the next step to ensure that the NCAA lives up to its responsibility to comply with the Title IX mandate and stops tolerating discrimination.”
In a letter sent last spring to then-NCAA president Mark Emmert, Sherrill and two other lawmakers chastised him for failing to take meaningful steps to ensure gender equity in college sports after the 2021 women’s tournament debacle, when a picture of the inadequate weight room of the event unleashed a wave of criticism towards the association.
In response to the situation, the NCAA conducted an internal review and retained a law firm to evaluate and produce a report of the organization’s policies and practices related to gender equity. While the NCAA complied with some of the report’s recommendations — for example, the association now labeled both tournaments “March Madness” instead of just the men’s event — the organization failed to implement several other recommendations, Sherrill and Salazar say. .
The final of this year’s women’s tournament drew a record 9.9 million viewers, a huge figure that many professional sports postseason events don’t get. The championship surpassed all NBA playoff games last year except NBA Finals games, and all MLB postseason games last year except World Series contests.
He is a timely figure. The women’s tournament is set to enter the final year of a $34 million television contract that is bundled with other Olympic sports. However, many have suggested that the event warrants a more lucrative, independent television deal. An NCAA study last year showed that the tournament rights could be worth as much as $112 million.