Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP (“KHF”) is conducting a comprehensive and thorough external review of gender equity issues in connection with the NCAA, focusing on the NCAA championships. While the immediate focus of this review is on women’s and men’s basketball, the full inquiry will include a review across other sports, including gender equity challenges that may be unique to those programs. The review has included and will continue to include Divisions I, II, and III.

Phase I: Basketball

Listening Sessions: An essential component of KHF’s review has been hearing directly from key stakeholders about their experiences, insights, and concerns with respect to gender equity in connection with the NCAA and NCAA championships. As an initial step, KHF conducted listening sessions with key stakeholders, including, but not limited to, current and former student-athletes, parents, coaches, athletics directors, senior woman administrators, college/university chancellors and presidents, conference commissioners, representative athletics groups, and NCAA staff, committee, and board members. These sessions took the form of individual and group meetings, as well as open forum discussions. It was important for KHF to hear from these constituencies at the beginning of the process in order to identify and understand the relevant issues, which subsequently informed the review, analysis and recommendations.

Comment Website: In addition to gathering information through the listening sessions, KHF has set up a website at ncaagenderequityreview.com, to which there is also a link on the NCAA.org website.

On this website, individuals were able to submit comments to KHF and request to speak with KHF (including confidentially) in order to provide information relevant to the review.

Confidentiality: In order to carry out the review, KHF engaged in confidential communications with various stakeholders, including student-athletes, NCAA members, NCAA staff, and NCAA partners. KHF was able to ask the questions it needed to ask, and those providing answers were able to do so confidentially and/or anonymously. The confidentiality of these communications was respected by the NCAA.  This confidentiality will continue throughout Phase II.

Revised Scope & Work Plan: Based on the outcome of the listening sessions and website comments received, KHF refined the scope of work and developed a more detailed work plan, which included reviewing the following:

  • The planning and execution of the 2021 women’s and men’s basketball championships, as well as steps taken to ameliorate the issues identified;
  • The decision-making authority, structural responsibilities, oversight responsibilities, internal communications and coordination, and external interactions with respect to women’s and men’s basketball and their respective championships;
  • Comparability of policies and procedures for women’s and men’s basketball, including the comparability of the policies and procedures for the women’s and men’s championships;
  • Comparability of staffing, facilities, marketing capabilities and resources, broadcast and media coverage, support by external operations, event presentation, promotions, resource allocation, use of marks, and other relevant aspects of women’s and men’s basketball and their respective championships.

Document Review & Interviews: KHF conducted interviews and received documents and information from the NCAA and others as part of the review. These interviews included NCAA staff and membership.

Report: A comprehensive written report of the Phase I findings and recommendations was delivered to the NCAA Board of Governors on August 2, 2021, and, at the request of the NCAA, is publicly available here.

Phase II: Other Sports

Based on what has been learned in Phase I during the listening sessions, as well as on the information developed by KHF’s initial focus on women’s and men’s basketball, KHF is conducting a gender equity examination of the other NCAA sports. As part of Phase II, KHF will conduct additional listening sessions with and solicit feedback from key stakeholders, including through the use of targeted questionnaires. KHF will also continue to receive submissions to the comment website. As necessary, KHF will also conduct additional interviews and receive additional documents and information from the NCAA as part of the review.

KHF continues to provide ongoing periodic updates to the Board of Governors, with the goal of completing Phase II of the review as expeditiously as possible and reporting on findings by Fall 2021.