Title IX guaranteed that female athletes would get the same opportunities as their male counterparts when it came to playing sports in school.  However, that right did not roll over professional play and game officials.

All of that will change…at least the officiating part…with the NCAA basketball tournaments next spring.

Saying, “the national office continues to prioritize gender equity and has taken steps to correct the disparity of pay for officials selected to work the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” the NCAA will pay the officials for both tournaments the same amount of money.  They added, “all basketball officials, regardless of the gender of sport participants, will be receiving equal pay for championship games officiated in 2022 and beyond.”

The disparity between the male and female tournaments came to the forefront earlier this year when it was discovered that the facilities used by the female players were second rate at best; while the men had access to top notch amenities.

As a result of the revelation, the NCAA commissioned the law firm of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP to create a report on gender equality.  The result was a 113 page document that included numerous recommendations including expansion of the field in the women’s tournament and using the term “March Madness” for both tournaments.  The pay differential was not a part of the report but the committee discovered the discrepancy during a budget meeting.

NCAA Selection committee chair Nina King spoke on the decision saying, “happy the NCAA recognized that this was the right thing to do for NCAA Tournament officials. It was almost low-hanging fruit. Why aren’t we paying the officials the same to do the same work on the men’s tournament? Pretty easy rationale to put forward. I’m really pleased that we got the approval to do that.”

The idea of equal pay is not a new concept for the NCAA who has paid officials in both sports the same from 2001 to 2012; but once the referees started making more money in conference games, the NCAA deemed it necessary to increase pay for the tournament as well.

Noting that the officials is 21 other sports are already equal, the NCAA said that officials in the softball and lacrosse tournaments will also begin to receive equal pay.

feature photo credit:NCAA Tournament balloons (3368673033).jpg