In AP survey, ADs elevate worries about girls’s faculty sports activities

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FILE – Stanford’s Kiana Williams plays during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri State in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio this Sunday, March 28, 2021, file photo. Williams said it hurt to see that “the same effort” was not going into organizing the women’s basketball tournament as the men’s tournament. A new AP poll of sporting directors and conversations with ADs and conference commissioners during March Madness show concern about what would happen to college sports for women if suggestions were made that would put more money in some athletes’ pockets. (AP Photo / Morry Gash, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – To hear how many of those in charge of Department I programs are reporting, the state of women’s sport may be deteriorating, not improving, on proposals that would put more money in the pockets of some college athletes.

A new Associated Press poll of sporting directors and conversations with ADs and conference commissioners during March Madness revealed a picture that troubled sports other than the top two sources of income, soccer and men’s basketball.

The AP asked a series of online questions to 357 ADs just before various differences between men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were fully on display over the past two weeks. Complaints were submitted by players and coaches as well as Mea Culpas from the NCAA. 99 sporting directors participated in anonymity in exchange for openness.

The most striking of the results released on Thursday: 94% of respondents said it would be a little or a lot more difficult to adhere to the rules on gender equality under Title IX if their school were to compensate athletes who make money in the biggest sports.

“I fully understand the concerns the ADs expressed in your survey, and I am not the least bit surprised,” said Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA. “One of the things that we are working on with Congress, and on which we formulate our own rules, is that people understand that while it is widely believed that all universities make a lot of money from college sports, the reality is whole different. And if other resources are used it will limit the ability of schools to support all of their teams and that is something I am very concerned about. ”

One AD wrote in the poll: “It is not possible to share income with athletes. This only works if the universities are then exempt from the requirements of Title IX. The income from football supports women’s golf, women’s tennis, women’s softball, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and women’s athletics on this campus. “

More than 70% said that certain sports would lose funding or cut entirely if their school offered students additional payments without scholarships.

“It’s not good enough just to say, ‘Let’s change. ‘We need to think about the effects of the change. What’s on the other side of the mirror? “Said Greg Sankey, commissioner for the Southeastern Conference, whose ADs in the league did not take part in the survey. “And I am concerned – very concerned – about the implications for all student athletes.”

After decades of clinging to an amateur ideal, the NCAA is close to having players sign individual sponsorship deals to benefit from their names, images, and likenesses (referred to as the “NIL”). With some state laws already on the books that would allow players to make money, Congress is considering no fewer than four bills that would create NIL rights and / or ask schools to share their earnings with athletes. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case on Wednesday about whether compensation restrictions for athletes violated antitrust law.

“It’s not about whether it’s going to change,” said Mike Cragg of St. John’s AD. “It’s a question of ‘when’ – and what it looks like.”

Because of TV deals, soccer and men’s basketball are the largest sources of funding for most schools’ sports programs. According to the NCAA, only the sports departments of 25 schools raised more money than in 2018-19, and all of them attended the Power 5 conferences: SEC, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12.

“The low income that 95% of institutions generate from income-earning sports is used to support other sports,” wrote an AD in the context of the AP survey. “If you pay that 5% of the students, the other teams that rely on that income will be devastated to survive.”

A fundamental restructuring of the revenue model could ultimately get money out of women’s sport.

“Many ADs have raised concerns about a limited amount of resources,” said Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman.

One question: will NIL contracts with individual athletes take too much money away from schools or conferences?

“When that happens,” said David Coburn of Florida State, “it will affect not only other men’s sports, but also women’s sports and the universities’ ability to impact justice.”

An important question in university sports is whether women and men have the same opportunities, e.g. B. the number of places available to athletes at a school or the quality of the training facilities. This standard was enshrined in federal law in 1972 through Title IX, which largely prohibits gender discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.

The NCAA may not have given up the letter of the law, but it has certainly lost sight of the underlying principle at its two biggest events: the men’s basketball tournament, which takes place entirely in Indianapolis this year and ends on Monday, and the women’s tournament, which ends on Monday On the following Sunday a two-week run ends in San Antonio.

People noticed the discrepancies: The COVID-19 tests. The arena branding. The weight rooms Oregon striker Sedona Prince noted in a social media post that went viral.

“It was very unfortunate and painful to see that we didn’t make the same effort,” said Stanford Senior Guard Kiana Williams. “We don’t need exactly the same weight room as the men, but it could have been a little more effort.”

The NCAA and Emmert switched to damage control. The Spin campaign continued on Wednesday with a press conference that was suddenly added to Emmert’s schedule and intended as time to discuss the women’s tournament. This is in addition to a previously scheduled meeting with reporters on Thursday to assess the men’s competition.

In an AP interview, Emmert blamed employee communications for the problems and praised “decades of undervaluing women’s sport”. The NCAA announced that it would hire a law firm to evaluate gender equality issues in its title competitions.

“What kind of cocoon do you live in? The Oregon gamer starts setting up a TikTok – and they probably had to explain to Mark Emmert what a TikTok is, by the way – and the next thing you know is just picking up steam. These events are only symptomatic of the fact that they have just made the women’s tournament “second-rate”, ”said Rich Ensor, commissioner for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“Beneath the surface,” said Ensor, “there are many problems.”

At the very top there is a pronounced gender gap: an AP number of ADs in Division I was 307 men and 50 women, a breakdown of 86% to 14%.

Compare that to the breakdown of athletes in 2020: 53% men, 47% women.

More than half of the conferences – 17 out of 32 – have one or no female ADs.

“There are far too few female executives in university sports,” Emmert told the AP.

Ackerman of the Big East, of which 11 sporting directors are all men, said her conference and others are considering something similar to the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which governs coaching and front-office research, in the hope “do this in every pool of” Ensure final candidates For a high profile position there is someone from an underrepresented population, regardless of whether it is a black person or a woman. “

The West Coast Conference announced its “Russell Rule” last August, named after basketball star Bill Russell and touted as the “first conference-wide commitment to diversity in Division I.”

Donna Woodruff, AD of Loyola Maryland, said the increase in diversity “helps avoid the mistakes of the past.”

“It doesn’t guarantee you will,” she said, “but it should definitely help.”

Those running college sports departments can expect a seismic shift in the way the business works.

To get a feel for what was coming, the AP ADs presented a series of online questions. A cross-section from across the country took part, but the 28 sporting directors of the SEC and the Big Ten did not.

As part of the survey, an AD described the looming shock as “a program that is getting richer” for leagues that already dominate the landscape.

An SEC sports director, Mitch Barnhart of Kentucky, who also chairs the men’s basketball tournament selection committee, said in an interview that it was just too difficult to predict the potential impact.

“It would be the equivalent of saying that we will bet on a game without knowing who the participants are,” said Barnhart. “We just don’t have enough information.”

From the AP survey:

– When your school starts compensating athletes for revenue-generating men’s sports such as soccer and basketball, how does this affect your school’s ability to meet Title IX? Would that do that: Much more difficult: 75.3%; Slightly more difficult: 18.6%; No effect: 6.2%; Somewhat easier or much simpler: zero.

– If your school offered students compensation in addition to scholarships, are there sports that would lose funding or would be cut by your school? Yes: 73.7%; No: 26.3%. One AD from a group of 5 conferences, soccer schools that are one notch below the Power 5, said, “This is the one to worry about – anyone involved in a non-revenue sport.”

– If allowed, how likely is it that your school will share revenue with athletes in revenue-generating sports? Not at all likely: 49%; Not very likely: 34.4%; Somewhat likely: 11.5%; Very likely: 5.2%.

There are no doubt skeptics who question the sincerity of ADs who acknowledge concerns about the elimination of exercise or its negative effects on women’s sports.

Perhaps, one thinks, they just want to avoid sweeping changes and are looking for plausible reasons to leave things as they are.

“This whole argument definitely reflects the ‘playbook’. It goes in the “playbook” when they say that about women’s sports and Title IX, ”said Victoria Jackson, a sports historian who teaches in the State of Arizona. “It always comes up when a change in revenue is mentioned.”

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Pells reported from Indianapolis; Fendrich reported from Washington. AP sports writers Doug Feinberg, John Marshall, Eric Olson, Ralph D. Russo, and Teresa M. Walker contributed.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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