Lawmakers: NCAA Oversight Commission Needed to Examine Equity in Sports

The bipartisan Women in NCAA Sports Act would create a congressional committee to study and report on equity issues across college athletics.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on April 14, 2023
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  • Two U.S. representatives on opposite sides of the aisle proposed the WINS Act.
  • The bill would create a 16-person congressional commission to study equality in NCAA tournaments.
  • This proposal comes after the women's March Madness tournament attracted record-smashing viewership.

Congress once again has the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in its sights with a proposal to start a committee to ensure fairness between men's and women's sports.

The bipartisan Women in NCAA Sports (WINS) Act directs Congress to establish a 16-member congressional committee to study and report on whether the NCAA's tournaments and other programs are equal between men's and women's divisions.

The commission would then report its findings with recommendations for how the NCAA can promote fairness and how Congress can improve oversight of the association.

U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat representing New Jersey, and U.S. Rep. Maria Salazar, a Republican representing Florida, are the co-sponsors of the WINS Act.

"The NCAA has made some progress in correcting the most obvious gender inequities within the Division I Basketball Championships, but there are far bigger organizational issues left to tackle," Sherrill said in a statement.

"This bipartisan legislation is the next step to ensuring the NCAA lives up to its responsibility to follow the mandate of Title IX and stops tolerating discrimination."

The bipartisan commission, if established, would report to Congress a comparison of the NCAA's treatment of men's and women's teams in postseason tournaments. That report would also include comparisons in non-tournament settings, such as:

  • Venues for games and practices
  • Equipment provided to teams
  • Lodging and transportation accommodations
  • Media contacts
  • Licenses, sponsors, and other partners who deliver "essential elements of the tournaments"
  • Overall budgets

The commission must provide an overview of federal support for the NCAA and recommendations for how the government can improve oversight of the NCAA's promotion of equality.

When deciding who will sit on the commission, legislators with experience as college athletes, coaches, or athletics administrators will have special consideration.

The lawmakers proposing this bill framed it as a way to continue the momentum women's sports currently has.

"This year's Women's NCAA Basketball Championship was the most watched in history, even attracting more viewers than the World Series, which shows just how important women's college athletics are," Salazar said. "I am happy to co-lead this legislation to ensure female athletes will receive the same treatment and same facilities as their male counterparts."

That momentum doesn't just extend to college basketball.

Viewership of the Women's College World Series in softball, for example, averaged 1.7 million viewers, according to ESPN. The Men's College World Series in baseball averaged 1.1 million.

The Association of Title IX Administrators endorsed the WINS Act. According to Rep. Sherrill's statement, the Women's Sports Foundation and Women's Basketball Coaches Association also endorsed the bill.