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Lawmakers question NCAA over 'disparate treatment' at women's championships

Lawmakers question NCAA over 'disparate treatment' at women's championships
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A group of 36 House members demanded information from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over a reported disparity between the men's and women's weight rooms at championship basketball tournaments. 

The House lawmakers, led by Rep. Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillGOP lawmakers request briefing on Democrats' claims of 'suspicious' Capitol tours before Jan. 6 Lawmakers question NCAA over 'disparate treatment' at women's championships NJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers MORE (D-N.J.) wrote a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert expressing concerns over “the unequal treatment of the women’s and men’s basketball teams.”

The lawmakers asked Emmert to “fully address the disparities and seek to review all other championship competitions to ensure that they adhere to the gender equity principles of Title IX in affording women athletes fair and equal treatment.”

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The NCAA has faced backlash over a video from a female college basketball player showing stark differences between weight rooms designated for men's and women's players.

The video, shared to social media by University of Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince, showed one dumbbell rack designated for women, while the men had a workout room complete with bumper plates, machines and lifting platforms. 

Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball, apologized last Friday, adding that the association is “actively working” to improve the situation.

The lawmakers' letter raised issues with the weight room, as well as concerns over other reported disparities between the way players at the men’s and women’s tournaments were treated. These include the food they received, COVID-19 testing and the way the two tournaments are branded.

The lawmakers demanded that Emmert respond to the lawmakers by no later than April 2.

“Such actions are deeply concerning and reflect NCAA’s lack of commitment to the spirit of Title IX to ensure a level playing field for women in athletics that are subsidized with federal financial assistance,” the letter states. “Despite having corrected at least some of these infractions, the NCAA’s clear disregard for women cannot be tolerated.”

Emmert issued a statement on Thursday saying that the association is “evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spending and revenue.”

He further said that the NCAA is retaining the law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP to evaluate its practices and policies and “provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better.”