Oregon women's basketball coach weighs in on NCAA updates
Last week, the NCAA made a small but meaningful change in the presentation of its March Madness basketball tournaments.
The regulating body of college athletics gave both the men's and women's tournaments their own Final Four logos, and created individual Twitter accounts for the Final Four.
Before this change, there was only one Twitter account that labeled itself as the "official" account and only in relation to the men's tournament.
The change, while not specific to the logo and social media, was expected to happen as far back on Wednesday, Sept. 29 when the NCAA announced that both tournaments would use the "March Madness" branding.
The change on its face isn't much but it's a small step in the right direction for problems that have persisted for decades. Only recently was there a national outrage when University of Oregon's Sedona Prince's TikTok went viral for demonstrating the inequities between the men's and women's weight rooms in the respective Indianapolis and San Antonio bubbles.
Other disparities surfaced shortly thereafter with regards to COVID testing, swag bags and food in the 2021 tournaments.
For advocates of the women's game, it's a small thing. For Oregon coach Kelly Graves, it's nice but not something he has been thinking about too much, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do.
"We haven't talked about it as a unit, that specific, the logo, and to be honest with you I haven't seen it myself," Graves said. "I think it was much needed. You know, it should be branded exactly the same because it's the same entity and it's the same sport. To be honest with you, I never paid too much attention, I never realized it wasn't, we weren't a March Madness. We refer to it as that.
"I'm just glad we're making strides," Graves continued. "I still think we have a long way to go. I think we still have to continue to be vigilant, and when I say 'we,' everybody with a stake in the women's basketball game, has got to make sure they carry through. The NCAA has given it lip service, they're saying the right things, now we've got to follow through and get it done."
Other changes to the tournament included expanding the tournament field to 68 teams, the same as the men's tournament, as announced in November 2021.
While he hadn't seen the new Final Four logo for the women at the time of the media availability, Graves was adamant in the women's Final Four being absolutely deserving of its attention, accolades, and host city. The NCAA announced last week that, despite a spate of COVID cancellations, March Madness will continue as planned.
"Our Final Four, I'm glad they decided to not put it with the men," Graves said. "I don't know if that's a firm decision, I don't think we need it, quite frankly. I think our Final Four can stand on its own. It's been sold out for years, it's a big deal. Wherever we go we can have our convention there. I think it would get lost in the noise if it was in the same city as the men, that's my personal opinion."
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