As the NCAA faces backlash for the disparity in amenities at the men's and women's NCAA tournaments, North Carolina State forward Elissa Cunane put it bluntly.
"It shows how far women's sports has to go," Cunane said.
The backlash the NCAA has faced stemmed from photos circulating on social media, showing a full weight room at the men's tournament in Indianapolis, while the women's tournament in San Antonio was left with a rack of weights and some yoga mats in an empty ballroom. There were also disparities in tournament swag and quality of food.
"We have intentionally organized basketball under one umbrella with a goal of consistency and collaboration. When we fall short of these expectations, that's on me," NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told reporters Friday morning.
Texas A&M senior forward N'dea Jones and UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere both said they weren't surprised to see that the men's side had better items than them, but Jones added she was surprised to see people finally speaking up.
"It's been like that for years. It's not something new. I think it's worse now because we are in a bubble, and we can't control a lot of the things that we normally would be able to control. We can't leave. We have to use the amenities that they give us," Jones said.
"Without social media, this wouldn't have come really to a spotlight, but I am glad that people are using their voices, using their platforms to kind of show what's going on in the bubble," Onyenwere said.
NCAA vice president of women's basketball Lynn Holzman said that following the viral reaction to the photos, the women's tournament committee had a conference call with coaches and team administrators about their experience in San Antonio and what could be improved. She said improvements would be made by Saturday morning, but didn't specify what those would be.
UCLA coach Cori Close and Texas A&M head Gary Blair were not part of that call with the NCAA, but Close was told by a team official that was in the meeting that issues on food and weight rooms were the main topics discussed.
Blair said that it was unacceptable to have a limited weight room and was glad people in San Antonio voiced their concerns. Over Zoom, he got up to show the swag bag his team was given, and told reporters, "that's not much folks.
"These kids should feel more important. The protocol, the safety, it's perfect. But I think they should have treated young ladies a little bit better," Blair said. "Athletes want to be able to have their body taken care of."
OPINION: NCAA's mea culpa not enough
In a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert on Friday, the NCAA's committee on women's athletics requested that Emmert investigate how the discrepancy occurred, as the situation, "undermines the NCAA's authority as a proponent and guarantor of Title IX protections, and it set women's college athletics back across the country."
Later Friday, it was revealed the men's and women's teams were receiving different COVID-19 tests. The men get the PCR test daily, and the women the antigen test. Emmert said there were no risk differences.
"The sad part is I have to answer questions about this when (it) is the most exciting time of the year. We've gotten through a pandemic and yet we're still in a place where we have to talk about equality," said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.
Close said that a way teams can promote change for women's college basketball is to promote the tournament as much as they can, as higher ratings will mean more sponsors helping elevate the game's presence.
"Let's just take it up a notch because it really makes a difference in the lives of these women, but also in the lives of women in our culture. It's not just about us, it's about the little girls that are watching this. It's about little boys and how it's defined that women are valued versus men," Close said.
One such sponsor stepped forward on social media Friday afternoon. Tonal Systems is sending 10 Tonal Smart Gyms to San Antonio and the company said they would arrive by Saturday.
. @sedonaprince_ This is ridiculous. Let’s one up them. We’re sending 10 Tonal Smart Gyms that will arrive in San Antonio tomorrow for all of the players. Please DM us for next steps.
Good luck to all of the @marchmadness teams! https://t.co/3JqLO4SQ1t
— Tonal (@tonal) March 19, 2021
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NCAA Tournament: Players, coaches outraged over inequalities for women