Former Longhorn sheds light on NCAA tournament facility disparities
AUSTIN, Texas - After behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the two NCAA tournament facilities made the rounds on social media, NCAA representatives said they will be making changes.
Posts on Twitter and Instagram compared the weight room at the men's NCAA tournament bubble in Indianapolis alongside the women’s weight room at their facility in San Antonio.
In a viral tweet by Oregon forward Sedona Prince, who formerly played for Liberty Hill High School and the University of Texas, she pointed out that there was plenty of space for more equipment. The women’s weight room consisted of a rack of dumbbells and a few tables.
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Lynn Holzman, the NCAA vice president of women’s basketball, said on Friday that they held a call with coaches and team administrators to discuss a solution.
"This is my passion, and I care about women’s basketball and women in sports," said Holzman. "We fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare in the last 60 days for 64 teams to be here in San Antonio, we acknowledge that."
Saturday, Prince posted another tweet praising the power of social media and showed off a now fully furnished training facility.
UT chief of staff and executive senior associate athletics director Chris Plonsky weighed in, bringing decades of experience in women’s basketball to the table. "This is the essence of why sports is so important to American society," she said. "There’s a lesson to be derived every time you put a team together and you face adversity and learn how to deal with adversity."
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She said UT Austin played a huge part in making women’s basketball what it is today. Part of that came in 1985 when Austin hosted the women’s tournament, though the Longhorns weren’t in it. The Longhorns then played to a sold-out crowd in the 1987 women’s tournament. "Those building blocks of the ’80s didn’t come easily and there still are challenges," she said.
Plonsky said she spoke to the women’s team this morning, and they had positive feedback. She said the team appeared "hyper-focused" on preparing for Monday's NCAA opener against Bradley.
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She said she believes the NCAA did own up to the mistake and believes they will do what’s necessary to fix it. "In life like in sports not everything goes your way all the time and how you respond to that is a life lesson," she said. "You might point it out but do you stay there and grovel in it, or do you try and help be part of a solution and make things better?"
In the meantime, Plonsky said the athletics department at UT Austin is just so happy to have two teams playing in this year’s tournament, especially after all they’ve been through with the pandemic. She hopes that remains the focus.
"Have a conversation about it and figure out how to get ‘er done, that was sort of our mantra in the 80s," she said.