The NCAA has changed its Final Four logos and social media channels for basketball tournaments. This is a seemingly minor change that could have a big impact on the continued efforts to level the men’s and women’s matches. Ensuring that the branding of the two tournaments is equal has long been a goal of defenders of women’s athletics.
“If you want to keep them separate, make sure the marketing of the two tournaments is equal and fair,” IU women’s basketball coach Teri Moren told IndyStar in November. “If you are not going to do this, then you must bring us together, because doing this for one and not for the other is wrong. Our women deserve this.
The men’s and women’s Final Four now each have their own logo, as well as their own Twitter account. Previously there was only one Twitter account (@FinalFour) which identified itself as the “official” tournament account and only tweeted about men’s matches.
It’s another step toward addressing issues that have persisted for years, but were only widely exposed during last year’s NCAA tournament. A TikTok from Sedona Prince, Oregon, showed a disparity in weight room quality between the bubbles of men’s and women’s tournaments in Indianapolis and San Antonio. Soon, disparities between food, gifts, and even COVID testing began to emerge.
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A review of the NCAA’s gender equity by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP highlighted these disparities, and more, suggesting changes that should be made. In September, the NCAA announced it would use the March Madness brand for both men’s and women’s tournaments. The women’s tournament expanded to 68 teams in November, the same number as the men. This change is another step in the right direction. The uneven marketing of tournaments has long been a concern. There have been discussions about the possibility of combining the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours in the same location.