Some of the recommendations in a 113-page report from Kaplan Heckler & Finke LLP, which was hired to review inequities between the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments:
— Change the leadership structure of Division I basketball to cultivate coordination between the men’s and women’s tournaments. The staffs currently operate in silos, with the men’s committee having a larger staff and budget.
— The NCAA should combine the Final Fours for the men’s and women’s tournaments, holding them over the same weekend at one site.
— Championships need not be identical, but items that directly impact the athlete experience should be substantially the same.
— The NCAA should take steps to maximize the value of the Division I women’s basketball tournament such as using the March Madness brand to promote it and making it a standalone property when its media rights are sold. The women’s tournament currently is packaged with 28 other NCAA championship events. A review done for Kaplan estimates the tournament’s value will be between $81 and $121 million in 2025.
— The field for the women’s tournament should be expanded from 64 to 68 to match the men’s bracket.
— The NCAA should modify its revenue distribution plan to account for gender equity and incentivize schools to invest in improving their women’s basketball programs similarly to the way it has been done in relation to the men’s tournament.