Knight Commission Urges NCAA to Immediately Implement Gender, Racial Equity Measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Cavaliers Commission urged the NCAA on Monday to take immediate action on two proposals to correct racial and gender inequality in NCAA sports income distribution, a group that firmly believes the organization does not need to wait for a new NCAA president to do so.

according to Knights Council, the NCAA awards 28% of its annual revenue distribution (over $160 million) to Division I men’s basketball wins and participation in the NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament. In contrast, the NCAA does not reward women’s basketball teams for their performance in the tournament.

The committee, which originally proposed equal income distribution in September 2021, doubled down on its call for the implementation of the Gender Equity Principles, which would require any income distribution based on NCAA track performance to provide equal incentives for the performance of men’s and women’s teams.

“I personally find it very disturbing, to say the least, that the NCAA Division I Board of Directors still hasn’t corrected this blatant multimillion-dollar gender inequality in its income distribution,” committee co-chair Nancy Sinfer said. Zimpher) said he was the university president emeritus. State University of New York. “Every university chancellor on the board is very clear that financial incentives reflect values ​​and impact priorities, and this will now be an easy problem to address.”

The Knight committee also recommends that, to receive academic-based awards, institutions must first demonstrate that the difference between the graduation success rates of their black and white athletes does not exceed 25 percentage points.

According to the commission, if this new racial equality standard is implemented in 2019, 66% of Tier 1 schools will be eligible for academic awards, as opposed to 79% of Tier 1 schools. About one in eight schools that are now eligible for academic awards will fail the racial equity graduation gap benchmark.

“We are now at a time when a transformational committee is rethinking the governance of college sports, and in doing so, there will also be a need to recalibrate values ​​and principles,” said former Maryland All-American and NBA veteran Len Elmore, co-chair of the Cavaliers committee. “From a value standpoint, whether it’s a gender standpoint or a race standpoint, nothing is more important than fairness. So why don’t we, right-minded, right-minded people, look at these now? question and realize “is it time to be on the right side? I believe the timing is right. I think our voice and advocacy has been strong. I think the impact will be felt. “

The committee recommends that the NCAA Division I Board of Directors implement these significant changes to the NCAA’s athletic and academic performance incentives, which total more than $200 million annually, in a timely manner to revise the 2023 income distribution.

A press release from the Knight Committee said that if the Division I board “fails to act, the board should review the operation of Division I in compliance with the new NCAA bylaws.”

At a time when the NCAA itself is in the midst of dramatic change, the Knight Commission is pushing for change, including a radical reorganization of its governance and a search for a replacement for outgoing President Mark Emmert.

The committee’s co-chair, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, called the NCAA’s governance structure “broken.”

“These things are urgent,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to wait for a new president at all.”

When asked about Congress’ role in the NIL, Duncan said he didn’t know of any industry, company or nonprofit that would say “let’s give it to Congress.”

“I think everyone is more willing to regulate themselves,” he said. “Congress only steps in when they see dysfunction, when they see a lack of leadership. … It’s definitely in the NCAA’s interest not to just sit and wait for Congress to possibly do something and not do something, and Congress will never be able to understand these issues and the people who work on them actually doing it.”

The Knight Commission is pushing for the NCAA to recognize that schools with large racial graduation gaps among athletes are still eligible for academic awards. According to the committee, based on the most recent publicly available data in 2019, nearly 80 percent of approximately 350 Category I institutions will receive an academic award by meeting one of three academic success benchmarks.

However, 47 of the schools had a graduation gap of more than 25 percentage points between the graduation success rates of black and white athletes.

“The NCAA should stop sending millions of dollars to schools that fail to close these gaps,” Elmore said.

After highly publicized inequality in the 2021 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the NCAA hired law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP to conduct an external review of gender equality issues related to the NCAA, particularly its tournaments. Despite acting on most of the other recommendations in the August 2021 Kaplan Hecker report, the NCAA has not adjusted its revenue distribution formula.

“The general rule should be that if money goes to a male team for any reason, it should also go to a female team for the same reason,” said Robbie Kaplan, the firm’s founding partner.

“We’ve had a lot of rounds here and the time has come,” Zinver said. “Waiting for new leadership to make these decisions will not allow us to recruit the kind of leadership the NCAA needs and deserves. … This has to stop, voices have to be heard, and it really comes down to leadership issues “In this case, leadership rests on our shoulders, given that we are looking for a new individual leader.”

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