If you tuned into last season's NCAA men's basketball tournament, you saw a vary large "MARCH MADNESS" emblazoned across center court.
In last season's NCAA women's basketball tournament, the same space simply read "WOMEN'S BASKETBALL."
The male tournament getting to use one of the most iconic names in sports while its female counterpart is left with a bare-bones statement of gender and sport provided an even more stark reflection than usual of the difference in importance placed on the two by the college basketball powers-that-be. It's something that has rubbed women's basketball fans the wrong way for years.
It looks like the NCAA is finally about to address that difference.
Starting this season, the NCAA will begin using the term "March Madness" in marketing and branding for the NCAA women's basketball tournament while also working to make the men's and women's tournament more financially equitable, the organization announced on Wednesday.
Details on how that branding will be incorporated into the women's tournament are still being figured out, but you can probably bet the words "March" and "Madness" will be somewhere on the court next year.
From the NCAA:
"Women's basketball has grown tremendously over the past several years, and we remain focused on our priority of enhancing and growing the game," said Lynn Holzman, vice president of women's basketball. "The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women's basketball championship."
The NCAA also announced it will be implementing a zero-based budgeting method for the two tournaments, which it explained as basically wiping the budgetary slate clean for each event and determining expenses from scratch. The organization said it will have on eye on increasing collaboration and cross-promotion while making the tournaments more financially equitable.
The changes have been a long time coming, and were sparked by a gender equity report earlier this year that concluded the NCAA had failed in its commitment to "diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators" due to the inequality between the two tournaments.
Examples of that inequality went viral this year when players posted pictures of comically ill-equipped facilities at the national tournament, as well as substandard food options when compared to what the male players got. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma even claimed the NCAA had given the two tournaments different COVID-19 tests.
The whole situation was an embarrassment for the NCAA. The organization soon apologized for the differences in resources and promised an investigation, which led to the aforementioned report. Now, it's putting in these fixes, and we'll have to see in March if they actually pass muster.