The NCAA Gave Women’s Teams An Actual Weight Room For March Madness After Getting Called Out Online
The NCAA initially provided women with a single rack of dumbbells, while the men had a full weight training room.
After national outrage over the full weight training room that the NCAA provided men with while giving women athletes one rack of dumbbells, the organization relented. According to an update posted to social media Saturday, the women's teams got what they were hoping for: a room full of weight equipment.
"Guess what, guys," said Sedona Prince, a player on the Oregon Ducks team. "We got a weight room. We got a ton more dumbbells; look at that. Look at all these racks for squats and whatever you wanna do."
In a video posted Saturday, Prince gives the viewer a full tour of the equipment provided to the players for March Madness tournaments.
"Thank you to NCAA for listening to us," she said. "We appreciate y'all, thank you so much."
The revelation over the blatantly unequal treatment of the male and female teams raised ire on social media. Photos of the facility for men were juxtaposed with the single rack of dumbbells in an empty room, underscoring the stark contrast.
"The real issue is not the weights or the 'swag' bags; it's that they did not think or do not think that the women's players 'deserve' the same amenities of the men," wrote three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley in a statement she posted to Twitter.
Staley also explicitly called out NCAA President Mark Emmert as being responsible for the larger disparity.
"What we now know is that the NCAA's season long messaging about 'togetherness' and 'equality' was about convenience and a soundbite for the moment created after the murder of George Floyd," she wrote.
Staley was far from the only person putting the NCAA's feet to the fire.
"This is an utter embarrassment & is not acceptable by any means," wrote ESPN host Jay Williams on Twitter. "I am sick and tired of the women’s game being treated like an after thought product. Their game is elite and their accommodations need to be treated as such. PERIOD."
The NCAA did not immediately apologize. Its initial statement falsely claimed that the issue was because of constrained space, which the athletes quickly debunked by posting a video of a large empty hall where the single dumbbell rack was located.
An apology came later, in a statement attributed to Dan Gavitt, NCAA's senior vice president of basketball.
“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," Gavitt said in the statement.
"The weight room has arrived! Let’s gooooo," the NCAA women's basketball account tweeted Saturday.
Although supporters of women's basketball rejoiced that the players got their equipment, many questioned why it took a national outrage for the situation to be resolved.
"These young student-athletes have a powerful voice," tweeted Kelly Graves, head women's basketball coach at the University of Oregon. "So proud that my team, as well as others, stood up, voiced a wrong & were instrumental in making change!"