We all hear that saying – adapt or perish. It is a common business maxim applied to companies in business that do one of two things. They either adapt to the surroundings of the climate around them or they decide to be stubborn and resist change that could do it good.
The NCAA, by creating a debacle for itself by completely neglecting the needs and amenities of women’s basketball players that made the trek to the San Antonio bubble for the NCAA tournament (in. a. pandemic.) displayed to everyone what its priorities are. And what its calendar reads at its Indianapolis ivory tower.
Everywhere else, apparently, the calendar says 2021. But in (Mark) EmmertWorld, the calendar still is stuck on the 1980s, apparently, a time when it was considered acceptable to refer to Title IX as the “Lesbians’ Bill of Rights.”
If Emmert refuses to adapt and realize that it is 2021 and realize women are no longer asking for equal treatment, but demanding it, then Emmert needs to quit the NCAA and find himself another line of work – and let a womxn (preferably a Black womxn) assume his post . If the NCAA refuses to acknowledge this as well, then perhaps we need to ask a hard question as to if we need an NCAA, because the more we find out about it, the more it exposes itself as a dinosaur of an organization unwilling to change.
This is an NCAA led by Emmert that already finds lame excuse after lame excuse after lame excuse to justify why it does not pay players even though it inks big-time multi-million and multi-billion dollar contracts (particularly for basketball and football) to plaster these events all over television. Now we see that ensuring that women have the same opportunities to thrive as the men do simply is not a priority in Indy.
Let me put it on Twitter too cause this needs the attention pic.twitter.com/t0DWKL2YHR
— Sedona Prince (@sedonaprince_) March 19, 2021
Social media is powerful. Thank you for all of y’all’s support pic.twitter.com/YR5ZNwywv6
— Sedona Prince (@sedonaprince_) March 20, 2021
And the powers that be in Indy can come up with all the excuses they want. They can say the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio did not have the space for a weight room (Sedona Prince’s TikTok video proved it does). They can say weather is different in San Antonio than for Indianapolis around this time for the men’s tournament (if that was really the case, why isn’t the men’s tourney in Houston or Dallas/why isn’t the women’s tournament in Detroit or Chicago).
Emmert and the NCAA can invent lame excuses for why the food options in Indy look like the men are being treated like kings and the women in San Antonio are being treated, not like queens, but more like court jesters instead of court queens. It can even come up with lame excuses as to why it does more to make the men’s tourney on CBS and the Turner networks more visually appealing than the women’s tourney and why the women’s tournament is not even marketed as “March Madness” the way the men’s tourney is.
Emmert and the NCAA know-it-alls can try to come up with feckless excuses as to why the COVID-19 tests in Indianapolis are more reliable and accurate than the ones in San Antonio.
It can even invent lame excuses as to why media covering the tournaments virtually do not have access to any photos from the women’s tournament until the Sweet 16 while there is a virtual treasure trove of photos available from the men’s side. This means that media covering the women’s tournament are more than likely using stock photos to document the happenings of the women’s tourney.
The NCAA’s digital media hub, available to media members working remotely, has press conference transcripts and a slew of game photos for the men’s tournament.
Neither is available for the women’s tournament until the Sweet 16.
— Russell Steinberg (@Russ_Steinberg) March 22, 2021
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2021
It can lament why it had the gall to release this time-lapsed video amidst the backlash showing all of the prep that went into organizing the weight room in Indianapolis when it knows full well that if a similar time-lapse were released for the women’s side (pre-Prince TikTok) it would probably last about five seconds.
It can invent all of the excuses it can to try to think it would be cute to offer hair and makeup tutorials as extracurricular activity options for the women that made the trip to San Antonio. Does that mean haircutting and hygiene seminars were also given to the men who made it to Indianapolis. By the way, we are talking about the NCAA Tournament, not New York Fashion Week (even though we love NYFW here at Beyond The W).
The NCAA can try and spin why the Division II tournament’s men’s Elite Eight games are being staged in the Ford Center (which seats 10,000) in Evansville while the women are being shoved into a convention center (as if it were high school) with both teams only being allotted 36 tickets each.
this photo was just sent to me re: the DII @NCAA tourney. men are playing in the ford center in evansville (11k capacity) w/ tickets on sale (left), women are playing in an event center ballroom with 36 guest passes per team (right). the disparity is present here too. pic.twitter.com/L6opOPZw9Y
— Emily Caron (@_emcaron) March 19, 2021
Well, let’s do a James Dolan already, NCAA. If they had both tournaments in New York City, they’d split the men’s games between Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center and stuff the women into the Westchester County Center like Dolan did in 2018 with the New York Liberty. Maybe we should delete this paragraph, because we do not want to give Emmert and his NCAA country club buddies any ideas.
None of it will stick. What happened in San Antonio is clearly the “Title IX = Lesbians’ Bill of Rights” mindset in plain, unfiltered view – and it is a mindset that will (unfortunately) continue within the NCAA unless Emmert leaves his post and it cleans house.
— Muffet McGraw (@MuffetMcGraw) March 20, 2021
Muffet McGraw for NCAA president. Either her or Dawn Staley.
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) March 20, 2021
The NCAA may not realize this because they obviously live in their own bubble, but it has no idea the massive public relations debacle it has created for itself.
And it is a debacle on multiple levels. The NCAA clearly had a mindset that the women’s players should simply be happy they are playing in a tournament amidst a pandemic and should not complain that their amenities are third-rate at best. They clearly were not expecting Prince (or any other player) to cause good trouble and display the images from the Alamo City for the world to see.
That only speaks to part of the NCAA’s problems. Emmert is a 68 year old white male. Maybe things like this would not have revealed themselves in his heyday, but we are talking about young adults in their late teens and early 20s. Our youth makes our culture better and more vibrant and they are glued to social media apps like Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
The NCAA’s egregious turnover here is even worse when taken into consideration that the Final Four of the tournament was to take place in San Antonio before the coronavirus hit. The same is true for the men’s tourney and Indy, but the powers that be in Naptown had no problem rolling out the red carpet for the men yet the women could not be given the same respect for their efforts.
Apparently, Emmert did not get the message of the power of women’s basketball players. WNBA players are a big part of the reason why Georgia has two Democratic senators in Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff after rallying for Warnock in their bubble last year against former Atlanta Dream co-boss Kelly Loeffler. Black women who play sports (along with their white allies) flipped a chamber of Congress earlier this year. If that is what the Black (and white) queens of the W accomplished, these Black (and white) queens are surely capable of ending Emmert’s tenure as NCAA president.
And that is another element of this we will be watching closely as it relates to the NCAA. The lack of effort and wealth of laziness that went into preparing the facilities in central Texas clearly is steeped in sexism and the “Title IX = Lesbians’ Bill of Rights” mindset that many powerful men in society have when they think of Title IX. Later on this year, there will be championships for several other Olympic sports – including beach volleyball, softball and tennis.
The NCAA is in a no-win situation even if it learns from its San Antonio debacle and actually provides top-notch amenities for the talented athletes competing in those sports (granted that their tournaments are in a bubble ala basketball). If the facilities are every bit as under-prepared as basketball was before Prince posted to TikTok, then it is another indication that the NCAA is doubling down on sexism. If the facilities actually are well-prepared, then it will look like women’s sports like softball (which are played predominantly by white women) get better treatment than basketball for this very reason.
Long story short, the NCAA put itself in a box … and is looking like Abel here trying to find a way out.
— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) February 18, 2021
Unfortunately, for the NCAA, there is no way out of this pickle. Prince’s TikTok was the social media equivalent of a full court press in a far corner of the floor with three 6-foot-4 defenders guarding a 5-foot-5 ball handler.
And the coach could not call timeout before one of those 6-foot-4 defenders forced a turnover.
And yeah, let’s even get Congress involved and really put the fear of God in the good ol’ boys network at the NCAA. It was not that long ago when Major League Baseball players were called to testify on Capitol Hill about performance enhancing drug use in the sport under the message of “what message does this send to the children?”
If that’s the case, what message does what happened in San Antonio send to our children, particularly our young queens who aspire to be the next Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart, Maya Moore, A’ja Wilson, Arike Ogunbowale, Sabrina Ionescu or Paige Bueckers.
And whether it is the Ed O’Bannon case, the threat of college football players forming their own union, the threat of Power 5 conferences splitting from the NCAA or how women’s programs unfairly get punished for corruption within either football or men’s basketball (see: North Carolina academic scandal), our guess is many an ex- (or current) collegiate athlete would smile from ear to ear at the thought of Emmert and friends sweating puddles at the thought of being summoned to Washington and having to testify under oath.
The NCAA is clearly hoping that as games get underway for both the women and men and as we get deeper into the tournaments that the San Antonio weight room/food/swag bag/media coverage, etc. debacle will fade away like an Ogunbowale jumper and the attention will be entirely on who is still dancing and which Cinderellas the clock struck 12 on. The problem is that games are only happening every few days and on days where there are no games, that gives people more chance to put the NCAA and Emmert under a much-deserved microscope.
And even if it were the case where games were happening every day, players, coaches, fans and media know how to walk and drink coffee at the same time.
The only way the NCAA can save itself from this debacle is a top-to-bottom house cleaning – starting with Emmert. His name is already mud in the eyes of many a player in many a sport that has passed through the NCAA’s ranks. Whenever the NCAA releases ads in the future touting its commitment to equality and change in the era of Me Too and Black Lives Matter, all one has to do is say three words to turn the NCAA’s entire PR outreach to mush.
Remember the Alamo.