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NCAA comes under fire for pathetic women's weight rooms, apologizes and unveils upgraded area

It also faced questions about differences in the so-called "swag bags" given to the men's and women's teams, the food options made available to the players, and the different types of COVID-19 testing being done for both.

NCAA comes under fire for pathetic women's weight rooms, apologizes and unveils upgraded area
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Sedona Prince

NCAA officials apologized to the women's basketball players and coaches Friday after social media posts highlighting the stark differences between the women's and men's weight room facilities in Texas and Indiana sparked national outrage. According to NPR, it all began Thursday after a coach from Stanford University posted a photo of the enormous, well-stocked workout complex provided to players at the men's tournament juxtaposed with the single rack of dumbbells and a small stack of yoga mats given to stars of the women's game. The controversy picked up steam when Oregon Ducks basketball player Sedona Prince posted a video debunking the NCAA's initial claim that the disparity was due to limited space constraints.



 

Following an onslaught of online criticism over the differences in amenities, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt apologized for "dropping the ball" during a zoom call Friday morning and vowed to do better. "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," he said in a statement posted by The Athletic. "I apologize and feel terrible about anything that falls short of our lofty expectations... We'll get it fixed as soon as possible."



 

According to ESPN, the NCAA also faced questions about differences in the so-called "swag bags" given to the men's and women's teams, the food options made available to the players, and the different types of COVID-19 testing being done for both. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma told reporters last week that his players are being given daily so-called rapid antigen tests while the P.C.R. test — which is considered the gold standard of virus testing — is being used at the men's event in Indiana. Responding to this particular issue, the NCAA stated that its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group "advised that either daily PCR or daily antigen testing were equally effective models for basketball championships, and they recommended adopting the testing approach that worked best with the provider and local health officials."



 



 

Meanwhile, NCAA president Mark Emmert said in an interview Friday that there has been less communication and collaboration between the men's and women's committees due to COVID-19 challenges and that issues with food deliveries to women's teams were being remedied. As for the swag bags, while Emmert said he thought they were of similar value, social media photos suggest that they weren't.



 

NCAA vice president for women's basketball Lynn Holzman, who was also on the video call with Gavitt, acknowledged that the organization "fell short." Holzman, a former college basketball player, said that her background made her especially committed to trying to avoid the kinds of inequities that were just displayed. "I think there are inherently questions and appropriate challenges relative to equality," she said. "I have lived in this world. I've experienced when you don't have something that's the same. This is also why it hits such a nerve with me. It's our responsibility to give them a great championship experience, and one they can be proud of. It's disappointing. I don't even have the words to describe how painful it is personally."



 

The NCAA revealed an upgraded weight room for the women's basketball players Saturday, featuring more weights, socially distanced squat racks, resistance bands, and exercise balls. Prince posted an update from the new facility located inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, thanking social media for helping call attention to the disparities. "Guess what guys? We got a weight room, yeah! Thank you NCAA for listening to us," she said in the video, which showed several of her teammates cheering.



 

While many supporters of women's basketball rejoiced the players getting their equipment, many questioned why it took a national outrage for the situation to be resolved. "I appreciate that [the NCAA] is working on a solution but this is unacceptable to begin with," tweeted Ross Bjork, the athletics director at Texas A&M. "No one in athletics would have thought this was appropriate if someone would have been consulted." Meanwhile, former longtime Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said that it's "hardly breaking news" that there's a huge disparity between men's and women's sports. "The NCAA had an opportunity to highlight how sport can be a place where we don't just talk about equality we put it on display," she said in a statement. "To say they dropped the ball would be the understatement of the century."



 

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