The Time for Change is Now: The Inequities Must End Today

A statement from Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports and Sandy Barbour, President of Women Leaders in College Sports

March 20, 2021

The NCAA over many years has provided tremendous support to Women Leaders in College Sports – in terms of grants, leadership opportunities and advocacy.  And one of the reasons the NCAA has provided this support is their interest in ensuring that women rise to the highest levels of college sports, and even more importantly, to the world outside of sports. 

Yet despite good intentions, organizations can fall short - and it is our duty to speak out as leaders, not to judge other leaders but because we all need to see changes in the name of equality, and for the sake of women and girls in sport everywhere.

As an organization focused on ensuring that women rise to the highest levels of leadership in college sports, it is disheartening and disappointing to learn about the flagrant inequities that exist between the women’s and men’s 2021 NCAA Basketball Championship.  It is imperative that these young women athletes who worked just as hard, trained just as long, sacrificed just as much as their male counterparts understand that the NCAA truly believes they are on equal footing. If we do not treat them in an equitable manner, what not-so-subtle messages are we sending to these young women about their self-confidence, the relative worth of their athletic accomplishments, and their ability to rise to the highest levels of leadership after college, when compared with men? 
We also have seen in the last 24 hours that change CAN happen, and quickly. In fact, we know that Lynn Holzman and her team are working hard to rectify the current situation, and some changes have already been made. 
It has been 50 years since the passage of Title IX, and the time for equality is long overdue. The collective psyche of girls and women everywhere hangs in the balance. Do we truly believe women athletes matter as much as male athletes?  If so, then we must show these talented women athletes and future women leaders the proof.  
On behalf of the organization that works to elevate women into leadership positions in college sports, we ask the NCAA to commit to crossing the finish line together with us…NOW.  These inequities must end today at the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.

Patti Phillips, CEO
Sandy Barbour, President