scorecardThe NCAA has shortchanged women's college basketball by nearly $100 million, a new report shows
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The NCAA has shortchanged women's college basketball by nearly $100 million, a new report shows

Meredith Cash   

The NCAA has shortchanged women's college basketball by nearly $100 million, a new report shows
Sports2 min read
  • The NCAA has undervalued women's college basketball by close to $100 million, a new report suggests.
  • Media expert Ed Desser estimates broadcast rights will be worth $81-112 million annually in 2025.
  • ESPN owns a package of women's hoops and 28 other sports championships for $34 million per year.

The NCAA has shortchanged its women's college basketball athletes.

Findings from a new report commissioned by the law firm of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP [KHP] - whom the NCAA itself hired for an internal investigation - suggest that the massive governing body of college sports has consistently made decisions that "create, normalize, and perpetuate gender inequities" between men's and women's college basketball.

The discrepancies range from athletic resources and food to funding of the sport itself, but perhaps most jarring of all is the organization's low-ball valuation of the women's college basketball national championship tournament.

At present, ESPN pays the NCAA $34 million per year for the rights to the annual women's NCAA tournament and the championships for 28 additional college sports. But independent media expert Ed Desser suggested that broadcast rights for the women's college basketball tournament are worth many times that figure - even without the package deal featured in the current agreement with ESPN.

Desser, who served as an NBA media expert for more than two decades before starting his own consultancy, estimated that the women's tournament will be worth $81 to $112 million annually in 2025. The upper end of that valuation is $78 million more than what ESPN pays for women's hoops tournament and 28 other sports, combined.

The report attributes the NCAA's "significant undervaluation" to "the growing popularity of women's basketball, a changing media landscape, and the fact that the championship's media rights have not been up for competitive bid in nearly two decades."

Among its many suggestions meant to level the playing field between men and women competing within the NCAA, KHP recommended that the organization market the broadcast rights for women's college basketball as "a stand-alone property."

The firm also advised the NCAA to allow both the men's and women's tournaments use of the famed "March Madness" moniker. Previously, the title has been reserved for the men's event.

KHP's full report is available online. You can read it here.

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