It began with a Tik Tok video from Sedona Prince, a redshirt sophomore forward at the University of Oregon, in which she pointed out the stark differences between the weight rooms for the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Both tournaments are taking place in bubble situations—with the women in and around San Antonio, Texas, and the men at sites around Indiana.
The women’s weight room had one small rack of free weights and some yoga mats and the men’s weight room was a full gym. When the initial explanation was a lack of space, Prince showed a significant amount of unused space at the facility. The situation was subsequently rectified, but the explanations offered were wholly inadequate.
Other comparisons followed. Journalist Sarah Spain showed the food being served to the men’s teams included steak and seafood, while the women were receiving canned vegetables and what looked like defrosted meatloaf and chicken. Even the swag bags were wildly disparate.
Iconic names in the sport, including University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and retired Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, weighed in. “In a season that has been focused on justice and equality it’s disheartening that we are addressing the glaring deficiencies and inequities in the women’s and men’s NCAA Tournament experiences for the student-athletes,” wrote Staley in a post.
Division I women’s basketball players showed up and gave their all during this incredibly challenging season. They stayed in their rooms and did their coursework, largely foregoing social interaction. Many players haven’t seen their families since they returned to campus in August and September. They endured game cancellations—at times after they’d already arrived at the destination for an away game.
They deserved better than dumbbells, yoga mats and lumpy mashed potatoes. They deserved to be treated like the incredible athletes and valiant warriors that they are.
With the women’s Tournament underway, teams from New York and New Jersey began action on Monday. Unfortunately, it was one and done. Rutgers University, the No. 6 seed in the Mercado Region, was upset 66–69 by the 11th seed, BYU. Also, in the Mercado Region, Stony Brook, the 14th seed, lost to No. 3 seed Arizona 44–79. In the Alamo Region, 15th seed Marist actually led No. 2 seed Louisville in the first quarter, but the Red Foxes were simply outmatched and lost 43–74.
In other postseason action, Fordham University exited the WNIT in the second round. Manhattan College went 1–2 in the WBI’s round robin format, earning the Jaspers’ first postseason win in nine years.