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NCAA prioritizes men's basketball

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By NICK PAPADIS
College Contributor Network

As March Madness heats up on both the men's and women's sides, spectators should take a deep look at the NCAA's treatment of the different genders in the NCAA Tournament. Though the NCAA touts its promotion of gender equality, the way they have chosen to handle the biggest stages in college basketball says otherwise.

The first and most evident factor that shows that the NCAA places its priority on men's basketball is the set up of the tournament. The men's tournament is played entirely at neutral sites, while the first two rounds of the women's tournament takes place at the highest seed's location.

This gives somewhat of an unfair advantage to the higher-seeded teams. In addition, it shows that the NCAA is not willing to expend the money necessary to send all the teams that make the tournament to a neutral site.

From a fiscal standpoint this seems to make logical sense due to the large amount of revenue raised by men's basketball in comparison to women's. However, at the base level, this is shear discrimination.

The NCAA is essentially saying that it values money more than equality. By having games at the home arena of the highest-seeded team in each pool, that team is given an unfair advantage, which is often tough to overcome for visiting teams.

One example of this is the University of Iowa, who has now hosted a first-round game three consecutive seasons. Each of these seasons they have won their first-round game. Not only have they won, but every year they have won by substantial margins.

Some may accredit this to the fact that they were the higher seed, but having just returned from Iowa City, I can say that I believe the home court advantage plays a significant role in their success.

Their women's basketball team draws very large crowds, and it is a very tough place for away teams to play, which is one of the many factors leading to their 18-0 record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. The Hawkeyes are a very talented and well-coached team, but the NCAA's decision to not send them to a neutral site has greatly helped their tournament success, both this season and in the past.

The tournament site's neutrality is not the only way the NCAA favors the men's tournament. The NCAA also tends to send women's teams to closer locations than men's teams.

The seeding of teams must also be questioned. Most teams are sent to locations reasonably nearby. Spectators must wonder, how much does location play into seeding?

For example, this season all the teams that played at the University of Connecticut in the first round were less than four hours driving from Storrs, Conn. In addition to this, all the teams in this portion of the bracket play their regional game in Albany, N.Y.

This again, shows that the NCAA is unwilling to fairly place equal importance on the two tournaments.

In the men's tournament, the highest priority for seeding is to make good match-ups regardless of location or travel distance, while for the women's tournament, location is a key factor.

The question must be raised if some seeding is influenced by the fact that the NCAA does not want to pay more for travel for the women's tournament.

Though the NCAA does not show as high a regard for the women's tournament, it is clear that popularity is growing amongst fans, and most of the tournament games are aired on ESPN.

Hopefully this heightened popularity amongst the public will lead to a change by the NCAA to treat both tournaments equally as they should.

Nick Papadis is a sophomore at American University majoring broadcast journalism and broadcasts AU Men's Soccer amongst other sports. Nick is an avid Liverpool fan. Follow him on twitter @NPSoccerTalk
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