Thursday, 30 March 2023
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NCAA college basketball: Men make twice as much money

NCAA college basketball: Men make twice as much money


The men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments are structured identically. Sixty-eight teams play 67 games — each lasting 40 minutes — to vie for college basketball’s top prize.  There’s one inescapable difference: the men make twice as much money.

For a second year, college athletes — male and female — can profit from playing ball. In June 2021, the Supreme Court cleared the way for college athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness. Since then, 20-year-olds have earned six — sometimes seven — figures on such NIL deals to shoutout brands on Instagram, sign autographs, or hop on Zoom with a few fans. 

But those opportunities haven’t come equally. Data from Opendorse, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based marketing platform for athletes, found that male college basketball players make twice as much as their female counterparts. The numbers point to a disappointing reality that the long-standing disparities in professional sports already pervade college competition.

“It’s just following that historic trend of men getting more, being seen as more important,” said Andrea Geurin, the director of Loughborough University’s Institute for Sport Business in England. “Not that it is, but that’s our perception. That’s how society has always viewed sport.”

Opendorse analyzed deals executed using the company’s services by more than 100,000 college athletes from July 2021 through February of this year. According to the data, most of the men’s earnings edge comes from football, which by itself accounted for 55.1% of NIL deals. Even without football players in the dataset, Opendorse found that men take in roughly 60% of the compensation from NIL deals. 

College athletes generally get paid in one of two ways. The first is through traditional endorsements. Companies like Outback Steakhouse, H&R Block, and Gatorade have signed star athletes to appear in ads or post about products or businesses on social media. With this type of deal, many of the top earners are women, according to Opendorse Chief Executive Officer Blake Lawrence. 

“When it comes to brand marketers, the women basketball players on this list stand out in terms of their marketability,” Lawrence said, pointing out that women tend to have higher engagement levels on social media. Of players competing in the March Madness tournament, eight of the 10 most-followed on Instagram are women,…

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