New Report Details Gender Inequities in Men's, Women's Lacrosse

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Colleen Grady and Drexel lost to Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA tournament last spring.


A viral video during March Madness showcasing the lack of equity in facilities for men’s and women’s basketball has since forced NCAA administrators to reflect and address other gender inequities in college sports.

Phase II of an NCAA External Gender Equity Review, composed by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, has further detailed inequities in a variety of sports, including lacrosse.

Published on October 25, the review provides a rubric for its process and scope and also provides summaries of its findings and recommendations. Overall, the review concluded that “the NCAA’s organizational structure and culture prioritizes revenue-producing sports, contributor to gender inequity.”

It continues to say that the NCAA’s current infrastructure lacks the resources to “monitor, assess and ensure gender equity.”

How this might impact the future of lacrosse is up for debate, though this report could — at the very least — spark meaningful conversations. The case study for lacrosse begins on Page 77. The full report can be read here.

Below are some of the key points.

CHAMPIONSHIP STRUCTURE AND VENUE

The report compiled thoughts from stakeholders and observed that men’s lacrosse championship venues often take place in NFL stadiums that allow for better audio and video setups, compared to smaller venues that women’s lacrosse championships have typically been held.

Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.), Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia) and M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore) have all hosted in the past two decades — with other non-NFL venues mixed in — and Gillette will host again in 2025 and 2026.

The Division I women’s championship will join the Division I, II and III men’s championship weekend at Gillette in 2025 and 2026, though the initial hope was for all six championships to be held that weekend in the same location.

Sources told Kaplan that Gillette was willing to host all six championships, but the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee was concerned with the logistics surrounding practice times and scheduling. Some stakeholders felt that the “DII and DIII women are excluded,” per the report.

Ultimately, this was not an NCAA decision. Instead, it was a smaller sport committee that went ahead with this option.







BRANDING, MARKETING AND PROMOTION

As noted in the report, budgets for marketing come down to host organizations or schools and are not provided by the NCAA. There’s more money spent on promotion for the Division I men’s lacrosse championship — approximately $53,211 — than on the Division I women’s championship — approximately $17,396.

When the men’s championship was in Philadelphia, one stakeholder interviewed for the report noted that there were billboards on Interstate 95 and that ads were on TV and in print in New England when it was in Foxborough. The men’s host organization had the funds to do more with promotion. The women did not have the same funding.

“When it comes to marketing at the NFL stadium, there were signs in town on the highway,” a stakeholder said. “They have a huge budget. But we’re relying on the host school, and they don’t have the budget. We don’t have the opportunity to grow our sport.”

SPENDING

In 2019, the NCAA spent $2,619,073 on the Division I men’s lacrosse championship and $1,737,259 on the Division I women’s championship, even though the women’s championship bracket is larger (29 teams compared to 17). Men’s rosters are typically larger than women’s rosters, perhaps explaining why the money spent by the NCAA is larger than expected.

Regardless, the NCAA spent more per Division I athlete on the men’s side — $4,814 versus $1,939.

There are some additional costs on the men’s side due to using a larger venue, but the NCAA also spends more on signage and gifts for the men — things the report says can directly impact the student-athlete experience.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Despite the inequities detailed above (and more that were detailed further in the full report), the report outlines some progress that has been made.

Following the viral video during March Madness, the NCAA made sure the women’s lacrosse championship was staffed at an equal level to the men’s lacrosse championship, which was not the case before 2021.

Until 2021, travel parties were different sizes, as the Division I men could travel with 40 players and the Division I women could travel with 38. That was rectified this spring, with both allowed to bring 40.

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