AP Interview: Emmert says poor communication led to inequity

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FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. Emmert says the inequity issues between the mens and womens tournaments are the result of a lack of communication between the tourneys basketball committees and their focus on trying to get both events off to safe starts. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

SAN ANTONIO – Mark Emmert acknowledged the glaring failures to give the coaches and players in the women's tournament the same attention the NCAA gave the men was a result of a lack of communication between the two basketball staffs along with focusing on trying to tip off both events safely during a pandemic.

The NCAA president said the oversights resulted in overlooking differences that led to inequities that have cast a dark, looming cloud over the women's tournament.

“Clearly we should have had better communication between my teams,” Emmert said in a 30-minute interview with The Associated Press on Friday. "Clearly we should have really had a better focus on a number of those details that are hardly details, but are really, really important.

"The emphasis that needed to be on health and wellness and the complete and utter focus on how to pull this off in a pandemic led us to get our eye off the ball on a handful of things and that's really unfortunate. Had we done that better we wouldn't have had these things emerge.”

The NCAA announced on Thursday that it was hiring a law firm to review potential gender equity issues in all men’s and women’s championship events.

“We can't just say we're in favor or everything being equivalent and fair, we've got to make sure that's actually the case across the board,” Emmert said.

The NCAA has been accused the past two weeks of not providing equal amenities to the teams in the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments. Among other things, female players, coaches and staff in San Antonio have criticized the NCAA for not initially providing a full weight-training area to the women’s teams, noting the men’s teams in Indianapolis did not have the same problem.

“We dropped the ball in San Antonio in the women’s basketball tournament,” Emmert said.