NCAA considering changes to womens basketball branding, tournament

The NCAA's women's basketball oversight committee is considering changes within the sport related to branding and participation opportunities, according to a press release Tuesday. 

The announcement comes amid a gender equity review being conducted by Kaplan, Hecker & Fink LLP following an inadequate weight room setup among other unequal conditions at the 2021 NCAA women's Division I basketball tournament. Changes implemented by the committee will be in accordance with the recommendations of the outside firm.  

One large change that will be considered is a switch to using the March Madness branding traditionally associated only with the NCAA men's Division I basketball tournament. Both the women's basketball oversight committee and men's Division I basketball committee would work together to review the NCAA's collegiate basketball branding strategy. 

Stanford players and coach Tara VanDerveer celebrate after winning the NCAA women's basketball championship. (Photo: Kirby Lee, Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The committee also plans to explore changes to the structure of the women's tournament in conjunction with the women's basketball committee, broadcast partners and stakeholders. A possible expansion to 68 teams as well as changes to the tournament's timing and the Women's Final Four will be discussed. 

“The oversight committee is dedicated to moving quickly to bring positive changes to the sport of women’s basketball,” Lisa Campos, athletics director at University of Texas-San Antonio and chair of the women’s basketball oversight committee, said in a press release. “We are having these exploratory discussions now on items that are of high interest to members and women’s basketball stakeholders, with the expectation that we will be able to lay a foundation to take the next appropriate steps once the gender equity review is completed.”

There is no timeline for implementing changes discussed and proposed by the committee, a spokeswoman for the NCAA said, as they will follow the recommendations of Kaplan, Hecker & Fink LLP. The firm plans to publicly report the findings of its review by the end of July. 

Follow Emily Leiker on Twitter @emleiker

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