The NCAA came under fire on Thursday after Stanford sports performance coach Ali Kershner posted photos of the training facilities at the men’s Indianapolis bubble, comparing them to photos of the amenities at the women’s San Antonio bubble.
In the photos Kershner posted to her social media accounts, the men’s workout equipment, including squat racks, weight benches and dumbells, stretches as far as the eye can see, while the women have access to one paltry tower of dumbbells with a maximum weight of 30 pounds.
“Not usually one for this type of post but this deserves attention,” she wrote. “This is the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament vs. Women’s Basketball tournament bubble set up. @ncaawbb @ncaa @marchmadness this needs to be addressed. These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities.
“Not only that – 3 weeks in a bubble and no access to DBs above 30’s until the sweet 16? In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”
NCAA vice president Lynn Holzman responded to Kershner’s post, laying the blame on “limited space” inside the “controlled environment.”
“We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment,” said Holzman. “In part, this is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament. However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.”
“We fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare,” Holzman said in a followup statement on Friday. She added that the NCAA was “actively working” on improving the women’s facilities, including updating the exercise facilities and food.
Oregon player Sedona Prince posted a TikTok video following Holzman’s initial statement, showing that there is, indeed, plenty of space to fill with equipment.
“It’s 2021 and we are still fighting for bits and pieces of equality,” she captioned her video.
WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu — also the 2020 national player of the year in NCAA women’s basketball — tweeted her disgust at the lack of equipment for women.
She then, like Prince, pointed out in a brief video that there is ample room to add more.
NBA star Ja Morant tweeted his support for the women, calling the situation “disrespectful.”
The 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament starts on March 21 and the men’s officially tipped off on March 18.