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Report recommends combined men’s, women’s Final Four

Report recommends combined men’s, women’s Final Four
Sports
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament typically has the national spotlight when it reaches the Final Four, with the best teams – or luckiest – to have survived March Madness playing the final games to determine a national champion.

Now imagine how it could look with the women’s tournament bringing its Final Four to the same city on the same weekend.

The idea of a combined Final Four sounds attractive as a showcase for Division I college basketball and it is also one of the key recommendations in a scathing report examining how the NCAA conducts its championship events when it comes to gender equity.

The review by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP came after the NCAA failed to provide similar amenities to the teams in the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments earlier this year, a situation that led to apologies from NCAA executives.

The idea behind a combined Final Four is this: have the men’s and women’s tournaments wind up in a single location, potentially increasing the sponsorship and promotional opportunities to help grow the women’s game. That would be a way to remedy a system that thus far, according to the report, has been “designed to maximize the value and support“ for the men’s tournament as the NCAA’s primary revenue-producting event.

“Put simply,” the review states, “without combining the Final Fours, the women’s championship will continue to have a different look and feel from the men’s championship” until the NCAA’s multimedia agreement with CBS and Turner to carry the tournament expires in 2032.

That makes sense to Kirk Wakefield, a professor of retail marketing at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

“The research I’ve done for years shows that the physical facilities and environment that you’re having any event matters: the venue location, the attractiveness, the whole experience for sure matters,” Wakefield said. “So if they are demonstrably different, then people respond to that.“

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at

Fans pose with a Final Four logo before a college basketball game during the Final Four round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. A law firm hired to investigate gender equity concerns at NCAA championship events released a blistering report Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, that recommended holding the men s and women s Final Fours at the same site and offering financial incentives to schools to improve their women s basketball programs.

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