NCAA extends ‘March Madness’ branding to Division 1 women’s tournament

The well-recognized “March Madness” marketing and branding will be used for the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament beginning with the 2022 tournament. Additionally, a new budgeting method is being implemented for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments going forward.

Both moves are in response to a comprehensive external review of gender equity issues in connection with NCAA championships, including issues that arose during the 2021 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. Those issues included the obvious disparity between the workout facilities available for the women’s teams compared to the men, and the use of the generic “Women’s Basketball” logo used on the courts for the tournament instead of the familiar “March Madness.”

“Women’s basketball has grown tremendously over the past several years, and we remain focused on our priority of enhancing and growing the game,” said Lynn Holzman, vice president of NCAA women’s basketball, in a statement. “The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”

While the NCAA did not detail how the March Madness brand will be incorporated into the women’s tournament, members of the Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee unanimously supported the use of the brand as a first step toward better equity between the women’s and men’s tournaments.

“This is just the start when it comes to improving gender equity in the way the two Division I basketball championships are conducted,” said Lisa Campos, chair of the oversight committee and director of athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport, and the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.”

Regarding the budgeting changes, the NCAA will now use a “zero-based budgeting method” for the two championships. Rather than adjusting budgets from the previous fiscal year, the men’s and women’s basketball championships staffs will start “from scratch” each season to determine budgeting expenses. Budgets must be justified and approved for each new period, and the change is designed to offer increased transparency as to where justifiable differences exist and are appropriate.

The NCAA also noted that the men’s and women’s basketball committees as well as their respective oversight committees are now conducting regular joint meetings to foster better collaboration.

Changes are a direct result of recommendations made in the NCAA’s gender equity report conducted by the law firm of Kaplan, Hecker & Fink LLP, which was released Aug. 3.

The 2022 women’s basketball tournament will kick off March 14 with “Selection Monday” and will conclude with the Women’s Final Four on April 1-3 in Minneapolis.