SFA Ladyjacks speak on viral controversy from inside the NCAA bubble

SFA Ladyjacks speak on viral controversy from inside the NCAA bubble
SFA Senior Alyssa Mayfield at practice in San Antonio (SFA Athletics) (Source: SFA Athletics)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KTRE) - The NCAA is apologizing after women’s basketball teams and critics voiced their frustration in the accommodations in San Antonio for the Women’s National Tournament compared to those in Indianapolis for the Men’s National Tournament.

Over the past 24 hours multiple videos and pictures have been posted on various social media platforms comparing what the male basketball players get compared to what the women get. The two most notable pictures being share are of a conference room full of weights at the men’s tournament while the women’s teams have just a small stack of hand weights for the women.

“We have intentionally organized basketball under one umbrella, with the goal of consistency and collaboration. When we fall short of these expectations, that’s on me,” NCAA Vice President Dan Gavitt said. “I apologize to women’s basketball student-athletes, to the coaches, to the women’s basketball committee for dropping the ball, frankly, on the weight-room issue in San Antonio. We’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.”

The SFA women’s basketball team is in San Antonio preparing for their first round matchup against Georgia Tech on Sunday.

“I think it is that fine line between being grateful and still sticking up for what is right and what is wrong,” SFA women’s head basketball coach Mark Kellogg said. “We want to be grateful but we realize this could be done at a better rate.”

His players were also vocal about the issue during their press availability on Friday.

““You just wonder, ‘Why is this a big difference?’” SFA junior Stephanie Visscher said. “ It is like we are grateful but we have to stick up for ourselves as female athletes. I think that is why it is such a disappointment that it is the way it is.”

The issues though go beyond the weight room. Pictures also showing smaller swag bags for the women’s teams and food options less than the men.

“When we got our swag bag I was excite that I got a hat,” senior Marrisa Banfield said. “Then you see the pictures on social media and you see how big the difference is. It is sometimes hard to see because we are working towards the same thing and same goal. It may not be a big deal to some people but it is crazy to see the social media post.”

The NCAA has met with the women’s teams in San Antonio and are hoping to fix some of these issues.

“I think there are inherently questions and appropriate challenges relative to equality,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Lynn Holzman said on a video conference call. “I have lived in this world. I’ve experienced when you don’t have something that’s the same. This is also why it hits such a nerve with me. It’s our responsibility to give them a great championship experience, and one they can be proud of. It’s disappointing. I don’t even have the words to describe how painful it is personally.”

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