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Gender Inequality in College Basketball -- Despite UConn's Ninth Straight Final Four

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Andrew Zimbalist argued that there's no justification for the NCAA to simply not pay the women.

The UConn Huskies women will head to the Final Four - for the ninth time in a row. They defeated Texas last night in Bridgeport.

Even if the Huskies win an unprecedented four consecutive NCAA championships, the National Collegiate Athletic Association will not financially reward the women athletes, as it does the men. 

Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College, says in this case -- Title IX, which promotes gender equity in college activities, is not being properly implemented.

“If a team wins a game in the men’s tournament, then the conference they belong to, over a period of six years, gets $1.56 million. On the women’s side, if the women win a game they get zilch. They get zero,” said Zimbalist.

He said you could make a commercial argument that says the men have higher television ratings, and more people in the stands…so should be paid more. 

But he argued there’s no justification for the NCAA to simply not pay the women.

“But then there’s also the question of why does it have to make commercial sense in the first place? These are intercollegiate competitions. They’re being conducted under the umbrella of the educational process,” said Zimbalist. “There’s nothing in Title IX that says that women should be treated equally to men, provided that they generate the same amount of revenue.”

Zimbalist called the attitude emblematic of the way the NCAA treats women sports. 

The NCAA did not respond by deadline to WNPR’s request for comment.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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