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NCAA president aims for unit distribution at next women's tournament

Eakin Howard / Getty Images Sport / Getty

CLEVELAND (AP) — NCAA President Charlie Baker said he is hoping for performance unit distribution for the women's NCAA Tournament next season.

As of now, teams that make the women's NCAA Tournament don't earn anything financially for doing so, unlike their men's counterparts where units are awarded to conferences for each game played before being distributed to schools.

While nothing has been approved yet, Baker said the finance committee is targeting the 2024-25 season after the NCAA signed a new eight-year deal with ESPN worth $115 million per year for 40 sports.

“We just signed a new contract with ESPN and women’s basketball is a big and important part of that deal,” Baker said Sunday. “It will also send a huge signal to women’s basketball generally about the fact you play in the tournament, you do well, you will benefit financially as well as in the other ways.”

The NCAA still needs to figure out how units would be distributed, how much they would be worth and how conferences would be involved. To take effect in time for next year, the proposal would have to be approved in a full Division I membership vote during the NCAA convention in January.

Women's basketball has been on the rise lately. Attendance and viewership have skyrocketed. The Final Four game between Iowa and UConn drew 14.2 million TV viewers. South Carolina's 87-75 victory over Iowa in Sunday's championship game should easily surpass that number.

Coaches in the women's game have been asking for years for the system to change as a way to acknowledge the growth of the game. Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley has for years said how important getting financial units would be for the sport.

“You look at what the 68 teams are going to divide up, I think I saw $170 million between the 68 teams,” Staley said Saturday. “When you start bringing in revenue like that, it will move your campus in a different direction when it comes to women. So we’ve got to fight for that.”


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