SAN ANTONIO — The teams had barely landed in Texas when complaints of inequity between the women’s and men’s tournaments roared over social media posts noting the women’s weight training facilities in San Antonio were severely lacking compared to what the men have in Indianapolis. The women’s field has 64 teams and the men’s tournament 68.
In a Twitter post, Stanford sports performance coach for women’s basketball Ali Kershner posted a photo of a single stack of weights next to a training table with sanitized yoga mats, comparing it to pictures of massive facilities for the men with stacks of free weights, dumbbells and squat racks.
“These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” Kershner tweeted. “In a year defined by a fight for equality, this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”
Several of the top women’s basketball players see it as a bigger issue than just a subpar weight room.
“We are all grateful to be here and it took a lot of effort for them to put this all together,” UConn freshman All-American Paige Bueckers said on an Associated Press Twitter chat Thursday night. “It’s more of a principle thing. It’s not just a weight room that’s a problem. It’s the inequality of the weight rooms that’s the problem. There’s another tweet going around with the swag bag. It’s not just the weight room. It’s the inequalities and the better stuff the men get.”
South Carolina star Aliyah Boston agreed with Bueckers about the inequities.
“The men have everything in that weight room and we have yoga mats,” she said. “What are we supposed to do that. The bags, I’m glad we got a body wash, but they got a whole store.”
The current players got a lot of support from several top former college and current WNBA players who quickly tweeted support for the women and criticism of the NCAA.
“That NCAA bubble weight room situation is beyond disrespectful,” tweeted A’ja Wilson, who led South Carolina to the 2017 national championship and now plays for the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA.
NCAA senior vice president of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman said the governing body would try to quickly improve the equipment available at the women’s tournament. The original setup was limited because of a lack of available space in San Antonio, with plans to expand once the tournament field shrunk in the later rounds.
“We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment. 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,” Holzman said. “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.”