NCAA Will Allow 'March Madness' Branding for 2022 Women's Tournament
Starting in 2022, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament will get to use the “March Madness” branding that was previously reserved for the men’s tournament.
“Women’s basketball has grown tremendously over the past several years, and we remain focused on our priority of enhancing and growing the game,” Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball for the NCAA, told USA Today. “The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”
The move comes after criticism over the two tournaments in 2021, which critics say heavily favored the men in terms of branding, advertising and even facilities available to athletes.
Here are the differences in amenities/provisions between the Women’s & Men’s NCAA Tournament I’ve seen so far
- Weight room/equipment
- Swag Bags
— AJ McCord (@AJ_McCord) March 19, 2021
The NCAA is aggressively protective of the “March Madness” branding, making it a valuable marketing tool for the tournament.
“Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport,” University of Texas-San Antonio athletics director and committee chair Lisa Campos told USA Today. “And the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.”
In an effort to make the two tournaments more evenly marketed and executed, the NCAA will start fresh on budgets, rather than adjusting based on the previous year’s tournament.
Participants in the 2021 men’s tournament got a veritable treasure trove of swag, most decorated with the “March Madness” branding. The women, on the other hand, got a T-shirt, a couple water bottles, a cinch bag, socks, a hat, and a towel, all with various branding like “NCAA Women’s Basketball” rather than “March Madness” or “The Big Dance.”
Obviously, that will change this year. And, given the new budget structure (coupled with the very public outrage over the swag disparity), there’s a good chance women’s basketball players will leave the 2022 tournament with better gifts and better memories.