UConn's Geno Auriemma disappointed in disparities for men's and women's teams at NCAA Tournament: 'This isn't something new'

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Ryan Morik
·3 min read
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Geno Auriemma looking perplexed on the sidelines
Geno Auriemma looking perplexed on the sidelines

Disparities at the NCAA Tournament for men's and women's team include larger swag bags for the men, much better workout facilities for the men, and much better food options for the men.

Nets star Kyrie Irving called out the NCAA on Instagram, while another video on Twitter gave people a closer look at just how big the difference is in terms of gym equipment and practice floors. Here's a comparison of the food being given to the men and women.

On Friday, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma -- who is not at the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19, but has seen photos and videos -- called the disparities “disappointing.”

“It’s disappointing when the players. ... feel as though there are things that could have been done, should be done, should be happening that aren’t happening, and it’s disappointing to hear that, because the NCAA Tournament is supposed to be the culmination of a player’s season and sometimes their career," Auriemma told reporters via Zoom. "It’s disappointing to hear and to see the reaction, and it certainly doesn’t put us, speaking women’s basketball particularly. ... in the best possible light."

Auriemma said it isn’t the first time women’s athletic programs have had to deal with these discrepancies.

“This has been, for me, as long as I’ve been in women’s basketball, this has been a lifelong issue," Auriemma said. "This isn’t something new that just kinda cropped up. You can make a case that it’s never been fair, it’s never been equitable. And not that life is supposed to be fair, and not that you expect things to magically be rectified and say ‘yeah, we see inequity and we’re gonna fix it.’ The world doesn’t move that way.

"But what’s happening at the NCAA level, I think, it’s really – that’s a small sample, what’s happening. That’s a small sample of what occurs every single day on every college campus, pretty much, throughout this country."

Auriemma added that he and his program haven’t had to deal with such treatment on campus, "but it didn’t used to be that way,” he added.

“I spent 20-something years here battling the same things, whether or not we could get treated equally. Forget fairly, just equally. Or just to even get what you deserve based on what you’ve accomplished. Today, absolutely, there isn’t one issue at UConn that you can say ‘I wish we had this, we deserve this.’”

But that certainly is not the case for all women’s programs.

“But I’m in the small, small minority of women’s coaches around America,” said Auriemma. ". ... Throughout the country, women’s coaches have battled to try to get what coaches feel are things that I need to be successful. ... just think there’s a big picture there that for a lot of coaches in women’s sports, not just women’s basketball, that work just as hard as any other coach in America, and are successful, and are doing an incredible job, and they’re doing it with the resources that you would say are less than adequate relative to what the men might have.

“And that’s at every school, and that starts with every president, and athletic director, and anyone else associated with making sure that there’s some form equity, not just ‘let’s just give them enough so that they stay out of my office and stop complaining.’ … I’ve earned that success… some other places they work just has hard, they probably earned it, and it’s not happening.

"The NCAA Tournament, and the NCAA, and all this stuff, I don’t think they’re doing anything that you would say ‘wow, that’s just completely out of the ordinary’. It’s not. It’s not. It just follows with kind of the way things are and the way they’ve always been. Unfortunately now, players have put it out there, and it’s gonna have to be dealt with.”