NCAA Women’s basketball weight-room controversy

By Sydnee Reddy
April 28, 2021

During the NCAA March Madness tournament, women basketball players took to social media to show the difference in apparel and equipment in comparison to the men.

To keep March Madness as safe as possible this year the NCAA decided to make bubbles for both the men’s and women’s teams. The women’s bubble was located in San Antonio, Texas, while the men were located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Besides the difference in location between the two tournaments, there was a difference in accommodations and amenities. Multiple sources inside the bubble in San Antonio, from coaches and players, shared on social media the difference in food and gear the women’s teams received in comparison to the men’s teams. One of the biggest and most controversial was what the women’s teams received as gym equipment in comparison to the men’s.

NCAA logo. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

According to NBC Stanford University sports performance coach Ali Kershner showed the stark comparison between the men’s and women’s weight rooms. In a social media post, the women’s weight room just had a small rack of dumbbells and yoga mats, while the men’s weight room had a vast array of benches, racks, and barbell weights.

When the news first broke out I was furious, concerned, and disappointed,” Ashley Tutzauer, senior early childhood education major, said. “Just when you think gender equality is on the come up, one simple thing can bring the social justice issue three steps back.” 

After the post received a lot of attention, Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president of women’s basketball, made a statement acknowledging the problem. In the statement, Holzman said the reason the weight room equipment was so limited was because of the limited amount of space that was offered. 

“They handled it the best they could by giving them an actual weight room after the fact,” Hannah Fenstermacher, sophomore undecided major, said.” But it still is hard for me to wrap my head around that it took all this negative attention and backlash for them to change it.”

Sedona Prince, the Oregon player, disputed Holzman’s claim that there was no space when she posted a Tik Tok video showing that they had space for a weight room. In the video when talking about how they had space for a proper weight room Prince panned her camera to a large space.

When asked to comment on the video Holzman said they fell short on providing the proper facilities for women players and promised to improve it.

I do look at the NCAA a little differently, even though the men’s tournament may get a little more attention, does not mean that the women should just get pushed to the side. It wasn’t even just the weight room either,” Fenstermacher said. “A handful of the players in the tournament that were active on social media showed the differences in the food they got and the items they received from the NCAA. The logic behind the whole situation is difficult to understand and I at least thought that this organization would have known better than to do this.”

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Sydnee Reddy

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