NCAA to use 'March Madness' to help market Division I women's basketball tournament

Two moves by the NCAA on Wednesday should allow increased opportunities for collaboration and cross-promotion between the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, as well as making the two championships more financially equitable.

Starting this season, the term March Madness will also be used in marketing and branding the NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament. In addition, a new budget format has been implemented for the men's and women's basketball tournaments.

Changes were sparked in large part because of recommendations made in the NCAA's gender equity report released in August. The law firm of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP was commissioned by the NCAA to do the report after controversy arose last spring about the unequal treatment of the men's and women's basketball tournaments, including a huge disparity in the workout facility available for the women's teams.

That included the generic "Women's Basketball" appearing on the courts for that tournament, instead of the more iconic "March Madness."

The NCAA didn't specify Wednesday how "March Madness" will be incorporated into the women's tournament, but using that logo on the court could be a good start. The women's tournament also has 64 teams compared to 68 for the men's tournament.

"This is just the start when it comes to improving gender equity in the way the two Division I basketball championships are conducted,'' said UT San Antonio athletics director Lisa Campos, chair of the NCAA Division I women's basketball oversight committee. "Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I women's basketball championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport.''

The NCAA said the men's and women's basketball committees and those sports' oversight committees are now conducting regular joint meetings to better collaborate.

Rather than adjusting budgets each year from the previous year, the men's and women's basketball championship staffs will start anew in each period in determining and justifying expenses.

Phase II of the Kaplan report will examine gender equity in NCAA championships other than basketball. Its release date is pending.