April 7, 2024 

Charlie Baker says NCAA will have units for women’s tournament by 2024-25 season

Baker: 'Our goal is to get it up for the next fiscal year'

CLEVELAND — NCAA president Charlie Baker told reporters on Sunday that the NCAA plans to begin paying out units to winning teams in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for the 2024-25 season, a primary point of contention in the women’s game and a specific target date for the first time.

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“Our goal is to get it up for the next fiscal year, which would be ’24-’25,” Baker said when asked by The Next about specifics on implementation. “I can’t imagine getting it done with the distributed decision-making process we have at the NCAA any faster. And I think it will be the start of what ought to be a terrific renumerative benefit for teams that make the tournament and do well.”

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The unit payouts are a direct consequence of the new media rights deal the NCAA signed in January which includes the women’s NCAA Tournament valued at $65 million, a dramatic step forward in monetizing the game, though the ratings out of this NCAA Tournament has only increased concerns in many corners that the deal is not rich enough to reflect the women’s basketball audience.

Baker pushed back on that notion.

“Isn’t it nice how everybody’s got a rear point of view after the fact about everything?” Baker asked sarcastically. “We spent a lot of time with some very smart people who help work us through that contract and that contract when it was negotiated and signed was deemed by one of the sports journal publications as one of the five best deals of the year.”

However it is viewed, the new contract meant a commitment to unit payouts back in January from Baker, but with no timeline attached, leading to questions like this from Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder on Saturday.

“I know we’re going to get units coming up here pretty soon,” Bluder said. “That can’t come soon enough. Why are we waiting to put that in? Let’s do it now. Why wait? I think change has to happen a little bit quicker than what — they want to move. But they’re listening now, and that’s a good start, right? They’re listening, and they’re understanding there is a value to women’s basketball. And that’s a good start.”

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Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.

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