sunny.png
Friday October 22nd, 2021 3:57PM

A combined Final Four? Gender equity report calls for it

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament typically has the biggest spotlight when it reaches the Final Four, with the best teams – or luckiest – to have survived March Madness playing the final games to determine a national champion.

Now imagine how it could look with the women’s tournament bringing its Final Four to the same city on the same weekend.

The idea of a combined Final Four sounds attractive as a showcase for Division I college basketball and it is also one of the key recommendations in a scathing report examining how the NCAA conducts its championship events when it comes to gender equity.

The review by law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP came after the NCAA failed to provide similar amenities to the teams in the men’s and women’s tournaments earlier this year. The report is full of recommendations, but the one that drew the most immediate attention is combining the national semifinals into one action-packed weekend in a single city.

The idea would be to potentially increase the sponsorship and promotional opportunities to help grow the women’s game. That would be a way to remedy a system that thus far, according to the report, has been “designed to maximize the value and support" for the men's tournament as the NCAA's primary revenue-producting event.

The report calls a combined Final Four “the best available means to grow women's basketball and create equity” between the tournaments and suggests moving to that model “preferably no later” than the 2022-23 season. It also suggests holding them for at least 3-4 years for the NCAA to fully assess the impact.

“Put simply,” the review states, “without combining the Final Fours, the women’s championship will continue to have a different look and feel from the men’s championship” until the NCAA’s multimedia agreement with CBS and Turner to carry the tournament expires in 2032.

“The suggestion that we test it makes sense particularly from the sponsorship side of the equation as we are limited by the current men’s basketball contract to change any of the broadcasting and sponsorship elements to 2032 at the earliest," said Rich Ensor, commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. "It’s unfortunate we can’t separate those agreements earlier.”

A combined Final Four makes sense to Kirk Wakefield, a professor of retail marketing at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

“The research I’ve done for years shows that the physical facilities and environment that you’re having any event matters: the venue location, the attractiveness, the whole experience for sure matters,” Wakefield said. “So if they are demonstrably different, then people respond to that."

Part of that value is in perception, with Wakefield noting that pairing the events would help in the “positioning of it in people's minds to see it as comparable.” As the report notes, two tournament's worth of fan bases showing up in a city could create additional tickets to the women's event.

“What is true in general in promotion and marketing is it's better to make the big bigger rather than trying to go promote the thing that's not as big separately,” Wakefield said. "You're better off making that big weekend the biggest weekend you can than trying to come to Tuesday night because you're just working against the odds.”

But there are obstacles, starting with the fact that the NCAA has already announced Final Four venue choices through 2026. The men are set to play in New Orleans in 2022, followed by Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Indianapolis. The women will play in Minneapolis next spring, followed by Dallas, Cleveland, Tampa and Phoenix.

The report notes the recommendation doesn't come "lightly,” noting it would require the NCAA to work with host cities to change plans. And host cities would need to find enough hotel and event space to manage a bigger event than planned, a challenge faced to an even greater degree by multiple venues in Indiana and Texas to keep the each of the 2021 tournaments held entirely in one state due to COVID-19 protocols.

“It is critical, however, to make this change and to do so quickly to take advantage of the current momentum, to demonstrate the NCAA's significant commitment to change... and to capture the strategic value that combined Final Fours could yield for future contract negotiations,” the report states.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer texted AP: “I am not sure about a double tournament??? Who gets the best hotels? Etc? But I am open to it!”

Washington State men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith said he supported holding all national championships — all three divisions, both men and women — in a single site while UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma said “it's worth a shot” to combine the Final Fours.

“It’s worth a try,” Auriemma said. "It’s been done successfully with tennis and the Olympics. Will there be enough coverage spread around that no one gets lost in the shuffle there? That’s the question.”

___

AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg and AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missouri governor pardons gun-waving St. Louis lawyer couple
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has made good on his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home last year
8:25PM ( 17 minutes ago )
British navy group: 'Potential hijack' of ship off UAE coast
The British navy has warned of a “potential hijack” of a ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, without elaborating
8:15PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Vikings owner on league-low vax rate: 'We're very concerned'
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been absent from practice this week due to COVID-19 protocols
8:15PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
A combined Final Four? Gender equity report calls for it
A report examining how the NCAA conducts its championship events is recommending that the association considers holding the men's and women's Final Fours in the same location
7:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biles returns to Olympic competition, wins bronze on beam
Simone Biles stuck the landing and won a bronze medal
7:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
Vikings release CB Jeff Gladney after assault indictment
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Jeff Gladney has been released by the team, just a couple of hours after he was indicted by a Texas grand jury for felony assault of a woman he was previously in a relationship with
7:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Thousands flee homes as heat wave fuels Greek wildfire
Thousands of people have fled their homes north of Athens fled their homes as a wildfire reached residential areas and Greece grappled with its worst heat wave in decades
2:05PM ( 6 hours ago )
World record may be broken in shot put on Day 12 of Olympics
The main action for Day 12 of the Tokyo Games is at Olympic Stadium with live track & field events anchoring Wednesday coverage
12:01PM ( 8 hours ago )
Goodbye to greats: Scola, Gasols reach the end at Olympics
Luis Scola expected to be in the game competing until the buzzer sounded
11:35AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Officer dead, suspect killed in violence outside Pentagon
The Pentagon says one of its police officers died after being stabbed during a burst of violence at a transit center outside the building, and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene
7:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
DeSantis won't move on masks as Florida COVID wards swell
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is downplaying a spike in COVID-19 cases that’s shattered state hospitalization
7:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Lawyer: R. Kelly gained weight, lost money ahead of trial
R. Kelly's lawyer says the R&B star has gained weight and lost money while awaiting a sex-trafficking trial that starts in earnest next week
6:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Courts buzz briefly as eviction ban lapses, is reimposed
Tenants, who crowded housing courts amid concerns about a spike in evictions, have gotten a reprieve after the Biden administration announced an eviction ban that lapsed over the weekend would be extended 60 days in most of the country
5:18PM ( 3 hours ago )
Melting ice imperils 98% of Emperor penguin colonies by 2100
With climate change threatening the sea ice habitat of Emperor penguins, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced a proposal to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act
5:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
More than 110M COVID vaccines sent to 60 countries, US says
The White House says the U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia
4:58PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Tennessee won't incentivize COVID shots but pays to vax cows
Despite having some of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, Tennessee isn’t planning to offer any incentives for people to get the shot
1:03PM ( 7 hours ago )
Pentagon on lockdown after shooting near Metro station
Gunshots were fired Tuesday morning near the entrance of the Pentagon, resulting in multiple injuries
12:12PM ( 8 hours ago )
Hit with #MeToo revolt, Blizzard Entertainment chief is out
The president of Activision’s Blizzard Entertainment is leaving the company as it continues to deal with fallout from a discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit
10:52AM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
AP sources: Pac-12, Big 12 commissioners consider alliances
The commissioners of the Pac-12 and Big 12 are discussing how the two conferences might benefit from working together or maybe even merging
2:15PM ( 6 hours ago )
Bromell looks to replace Bolt atop Olympic 100-meter podium
Usain Bolt has retired so there will be a new fastest man at the Olympics for the first time since 2008 when the men’s 100-meter dash is held on Day 9 of the Tokyo Games
1:09PM ( 3 days ago )
Perfectly Impossible; Gymnasts wrestle with the imperfect
Even as they soar to the top of their sport, the best gymnasts in the world grapple with the idea of imperfection
5:29AM ( 3 days ago )
College Sports
Colleges scramble to ensure NIL deals are safe, compliant
The groundbreaking ruling that went into effect on enabling college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness for the first time has sent college and university athletic directors and compliance officers scrambling
6:58PM ( 1 month ago )
Collen 'going to be me' taking over Baylor women's program
Nicki Collen is going to be herself as head coach for three-time women's national champion Baylor
6:46PM ( 2 months ago )
NCAA extends contract of President Mark Emmert through 2025
The NCAA Board of Governors has voted to extend the contract of President Mark Emmert by two years through 2025
10:24PM ( 3 months ago )
AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
Huge California fire grows as heat spikes again across state
California’s largest wildfire exploded again after burning for nearly three weeks in remote mountains
8:41PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Missouri governor pardons gun-waving St. Louis lawyer couple
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has made good on his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home last year
8:25PM ( 20 minutes ago )
British navy group: 'Potential hijack' of ship off UAE coast
The British navy has warned of a “potential hijack” of a ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, without elaborating
8:15PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Vikings owner on league-low vax rate: 'We're very concerned'
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been absent from practice this week due to COVID-19 protocols
8:15PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Report drills NCAA on equity, calls for combined Final Four
A law firm hired to investigate gender equity concerns at NCAA championship events says the association has not lived up to its own standards
8:07PM ( 38 minutes ago )