The One Thing You Should Know About The Women’s March Madness Tournament
It should come as no surprise that men's and women's college sports don't get equal attention, and the two NCAA basketball championships that began this week are no different. Basketball fans will be in sports heaven for the rest of the month with back-to-back games on TV, but there's one thing you should know about the women's March Madness versus the men's tournament. There's a huge imbalance in how much funding the different programs receive. Even at schools where the women's team outperforms the men's, the all-lady teams don't get nearly as much money.
The gaps in coaches' salaries exemplify the problem well. The University of Connecticut's women's basketball team was ranked number one by the Associated Press this year, and coach Geno Auriemma is the best-paid coach in women's basketball, making $2.06 million in 2015. The men's coach, Kevin Ollie, made $3 million last year after winning the men's championship in 2014; however, the men's team was ranked 34th going into the 2016 tournament.
In comparison to the highest women's coaching salary of $2.06 million, the highest-paid men's coach, Kentucky's John Calipari, made $6.36 million in 2015. The women's coach at his school, Matthew Mitchell, made only $1.1 million (with the potential for a $336,000 bonus) in 2015. This $5 million difference is far from minor, and shows how much each respective team and coach is valued.
Female athletic programs typically receive less money than their male counterparts. At Division I schools, only 28 percent of the total athletic budgets, 31 percent of recruiting dollars, and 42 percent of athletic scholarship money is spent on women's sports. Basketball is one of the few sports that offers full rides for female athletes, but the programs still don't get as much money overall.
When the University of Connecticut did built new basketball center which opened in 2014, it had separate practice facilities for the men's and women's teams, which is a good show of equality. However, the women's coach still makes $1 million less than the men's, despite winning last year's championship.
According to CNN Money, most college women's basketball programs lose money, while men's teams typically generate revenue for the schools (largely because men's sports still get much more attention and viewership than women's). Because of this, men's coaches are paid millions more and women's programs receive far less than 50 percent of all athletic money at schools nationwide. As you watch both March Madness competitions, keep this in mind.