The NCAA earned praise this past year when it decided to pay referees at its mens and womens basketball tournaments equally. The gesture only cost about $100,000, a little fraction of the roughly $900 million networks pay annually to broadcast March Madness.
Now, because the NCAA examines various disparities across mens and womens sports, pressure is rising to also pay referees equally through the regular season. Two Division 1 conferences told The Associated Press they intend to equalize pay, and another is great deal of thought. Others are resisting change, despite the fact that the effect on their budgets will be negligible.
Those that are [equalizing pay] are reading the writing on the wall, said Michael Lewis, a marketing professor at Emory Universitys Goizueta Business School.
The facts of NCAA referee pay are closely guarded, however the Associated Press obtained data for the 2021-22 season that show 15 of the NCAAs largest & most profitable conferences paid veteran referees for mens basketball typically 22% more per game.
That degree of disparity is wider compared to the gender pay gap over the U.S. economy, where women earn 82 cents for each and every dollar a guy earns, based on the 2020 census. In fact it is an overwhelming disadvantage for women, who constitute significantly less than 1% of the referees officiating mens games.
Dawn Staley, the top coach for the University of SC Gamecocks the womens national champions said referees on the mens side ought to be upgrading and advocating for equal purchase womens referees. They dont do anything different, she said. Why should our officials receives a commission less when planning on taking the [expletive] we provide them with?
Individuals who provided AP with data for pretty much 1 / 2 of the NCAAs 32 Division I conferences have direct understanding of pay scales, plus they did etc condition of anonymity as the information is known as private.
The Northeast Conference had the widest per-game pay disparity on the list of NCAA leagues AP analyzed, with experienced referees for mens games earning 48% more. The Atlantic-10 paid veteran mens refs 44% more, as the Colonial Athletic Association paid them 38% more. (Only the Ivy League paid veteran officials equally in the info AP reviewed.)
Of the conferences with unequal pay contacted by AP, two the Pac-12 and the Northeast Conference said they intend to level the playing field starting next season. A third, the Patriot League, which had a 33% pay gap this past year, said it really is reviewing equity for officials in every sports. Pay is section of that, commissioner Jennifer Heppel said.
The Pac-12 paid referees equally about ten years ago, but allowed a disparity to create over time, in accordance with associate commissioner Teresa Gould. She said time for equal pay may be the right move to make.
NEC commissioner Noreen Morris said your choice to equalize pay was a straightforward someone to make once it realized that basketball was the only real sport where it had been not compensating referees equally.
In accordance with the levels of money these leagues generate, the expense of bridging the pay gap can seem small.
For instance, the SEC paid referees for mens games 10%, or $350, a lot more than those officiating womens games. During the period of a season, it could cost the SEC a couple of hundred thousand dollars to cover them equally a sliver of the $3 billion deal it signed with ESPN to broadcast most of its sports starting in 2024.
Probably the most experienced Division 1 referees for mens or womens games are well paid. Some earn much more than $150,000 in a season, officiating a large number of games across multiple conferences. Newer referees earn much less, supplementing income from another job.
All NCAA referees are independent contractors, without union representing their interests, and all need to cover their very own travel expenses.
The busiest referees could work five or six games weekly in various cities, running along the court for 40 minutes one night, obtaining a few hours of sleep, and getting up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight with their next destination.
Dee Kantner, a veteran referee of womens games who works for multiple conferences, finds it frustrating to possess to justify equal pay.
EASILY buy an airfare ticket and inform them Im performing a womens basketball game they arent likely to charge me less, she said.
Can you value womens basketball that significantly less? Ms. Kantner said. How are we rationalizing this still?
Several conference commissioners said the mens and womens games usually do not generate equal levels of revenue, and that the amount of play isn’t equal, therefore referee salaries are set accordingly.
Historically we’ve treated each referee pool as another market, said Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman. We paid rates that allow us to compete for services at our level. I believe the leagues have entitlement to look at different facets here. I dont view it being an equity issue I view it as market issue.
The Big East pays referees working its mens games 22% more, and Ms. Ackerman said there is absolutely no imminent intend to create a change.
Atlantic-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said the market-based approach is what enables her to provide a few of the highest per-game rates over the NCAA. We obtain the most experienced, most qualified officials in the united kingdom, she said.
Veteran referees officiating in the Atlantic-10 are paid $3,300 for mens games, weighed against $2,300 for womens games, in accordance with data reviewed by AP. Seven other conferences had higher per-game rates and narrower gender gaps this past year, the info show.
Of the roughly 800 referees officiating womens basketball earlier this season, 43% were female, a proportion thats been relatively consistent in the last decade. But just six women officiated mens games this past year a number which has slowly grown during the last couple of years.
Penny Davis, the NCAAs supervisor of officials, said conferences want to recruit more women to officiate mens games, that is another solution to help bridge the gender pay gap.
But Ms. Davis says she’d hate to see even fewer women refereeing womens basketball. We dont desire to lose our best and brightest, she said.
About ten years ago, referees working the mens and womens NCAA Tournament were paid equally. But because the profitability of the mens tournament skyrocketed, its budget grew too therefore did purchase referees.
Both Ms. McGlade and Ms. Ackerman praised the NCAA for restoring equal pay at the March tournaments. Were mindful of what the NCAA did for the tournament, Ms. Ackerman said. NCAA Tournament games are closer however, not entirely a standard officiating experience.
Ivy League executive director Robin Harris disagrees. We decided not long ago that it had been the right move to make to cover them exactly the same amount. They’re doing exactly the same job.
This story was reported by The Associated Press. AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to the story.