September 29, 2021 

NCAA will use “March Madness” for the women’s tournament

Zero-based budgeting method is attempt to make tournaments more equitable

The NCAA announced that the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship tournament will now use March Madness marketing. The change, starting with the 2022 tournament, aligns with recommendations made in the NCAA’s recent gender equity report. The equity report was conducted in response to widespread criticism of disparities observed between the men’s 2021 NCAA Tournament bubble in Indianapolis and the women’s bubble in San Antonio.

“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, in a statement. “The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”

Other than the March Madness designation, the NCAA has not clarified how else the brand will be incorporated into the women’s tournament. Wednesday’s announcement about the name change stated that those details are still in development.

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“This is just the start when it comes to improving gender equity in the way the two Division I basketball championships are conducted,” said Lisa Campos, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee, in the statement. “Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport, and the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.” 

In a less symbolic move, the NCAA also announced a zero-based budgeting method for the men’s and women’s tournaments. This means that each tournament’s budget will start “from scratch” with new expenses justified and approved. In previous years, budgets were adjusted from the previous fiscal year. The zero-based budgeting method is designed to make the two tournaments more equitable.

For the first time in the history of the women’s tournament; every game of the 2021 NCAA tournament was aired nationally through the ESPN family of networks. With select games on ABC, the 2021 tournament also marked the first time the tournament aired on broadcast television since 1995. All rounds of the 2022 NCAA women’s tournament are again scheduled to be on the ESPN family of networks. CBS/Turner owns the rights to the annual men’s tournament.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee is a women's basketball reporter and historian. As an author at The Next, Tee covers the BIG EAST conference and contributes articles and media featuring the WBL, the first professional women's basketball league in the United States.

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