Players, coaches call out differences in accommodations for women, men at NCAA tournaments

Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — Players and coaches from several women’s college basketball teams called out the NCAA for the difference in resources available for women’s and men’s basketball players at the NCAA tournaments.

An Oregon Ducks player’s video has gone viral for pointing out the difference in resources available for women’s and men’s basketball players at the NCAA tournament.

Oregon Duck women’s basketball player Sedona Prince’s video has gone viral for showing the unequal access provided to weight rooms and equipment. The tweet included a video showing the men’s tournament in Indiana having a fully-equipped weight room, while the women’s weight room in San Antonio had one dumbbell set that topped out at 30 pounds and a handful of yoga mats.

“If you don’t see the problem, then you’re part of it,” she said in the video.

Ducks Head Coach Kelly Graves joined the “AJ and Dusty” on 1080 The Fan radio show Friday afternoon to emphasize his support of Prince’s comments and push for change.

“I’m proud of her, and I support them and their actions and thoughts,” Graves said. “They have a platform and she has used it to her credit. It is unfortunate in this day and age there is that discrepancy in the men’s tournament and the women’s tournament in terms of facilities.”

Critics also pointed to images of the “swag bags” provided to players at both tournaments, which showed that the men had been given a large number of items custom-designed for this year’s March Madness tournament in Indianapolis, while the women’s bag included only a few generic items, including a 150-piece puzzle and a towel that said “NCAA women’s basketball.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Lynn Holzman, the vice president of NCAA women’s basketball, said they “acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment.”

The statement, which did not include an apology, said this was “in part” due to space restrictions and that the plan was to expand facilities as the tournament continues.

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt also issued the following statement Friday: “We have intentionally organized basketball under one umbrella [at the NCAA] to ensure consistency and collaboration. When we fall short on these expectations, it’s on me. I apologize to women’s basketball student-athletes, coaches and the women’s basketball committee for dropping the ball on the weight rooms in San Antonio.”

The photos prompted an outcry from fans as well as former NCAA players and current WNBA stars. Las Vegas Aces player A’ja Wilson called the situation “beyond disrespectful.

NBA great Stephen Curry retweeted Prince, calling out the NCAA and March Madness organizers.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who is also an avid basketball fan, weighed in on the controversy.

Prince “is exactly right,” Wyden tweeted. “This #MarchMadness inequality is shameful. Do better, @NCAA.”

College athletes have not been shy about showing public support for social causes and even pushing back against perceived inequities by the NCAA. Friday, several men’s players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before their first-round games. They also protested NCAA rules that ban athletes from earning money off their names, images and likenesses, earlier this week.

NewsNation affiliate KOIN contributed to this report.

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