Georgia Tech women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner has just penned a thank-you note to the NCAA, but she probably doesn’t expect the organization to respond by saying “you’re welcome.”
That’s because Fortner’s note is a brutal takedown of the way the organization handled its women’s basketball tournament, especially how it treated the players as “an afterthought.”
Fortner’s note, posted on Twitter Tuesday morning, took no prisoners:
“Thank you for using the three biggest weeks of your organization’s year to expose exactly how you feel about women’s basketball — an afterthought.”
Thank you for showing off the disparities between the men’s and women’s tournament that are on full display in San Antonio, from COVID testing, to lack of weight training facilities, to game floors that hardly tell anyone that it’s the NCAA Tournament and many more. But these disparities are just a snapshot of larger, more pervasive issues when it come to women’s sports and the NCAA. Shipping in a few racks of weights, after the fact, is not an answer. It’s a band-aid and an afterthought.
Fortner then took the group to task for claiming to be a nonprofit devoted to helping student-athletes while giving short shrift to half the athletes. “In what other non-profit educational endeavor is it acceptable to give women inferior text books and cheaper cafeteria food because of their perceived cash value?” she wrote.
The coach conceded that while the TV contract for the NCAA women’s tournament isn’t as lucrative as that for the men’s tournament, it’s still worth half a billion dollars to the organization and attracts a loyal TV audience.
“For too long, women’s basketball has accepted an attitude and treatment from the NCAA that has been substandard in its championships. It’s time for this to stop,” she wrote. “It’s time for women’s basketball to receive the treatment it has earned.”
The NCAA came under fire this past weekend after players and coaches first noted the dramatically disparate amenities given to male and female athletes competing in the March Madness tournaments.
Not only was the women’s weight room in San Antonio just a stack of dumbbells compared with the men’s spacious setup in Indianapolis, the available food choices for the women were much less appetizing than the food offered to male players. The men received better quality COVID-19 tests than the women as well.
The NCAA took steps to improve the amenities for the female players after being shamed on social media.
The organization also apologized Friday and vowed to do better.
“I apologize to the women’s student-athletes, coaches and committee for dropping the ball on the weight room issue in San Antonio, we’ll get it fixed as soon as possible,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball.