U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, testifying before a Congressional committee on Wednesday morning, criticized the NCAA for "completely unacceptable" inequities between its men's and women's basketball tournaments.
Rapinoe testified via videoconference at a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on the long-term economic impacts of gender inequity. In addition to questioning about the U.S. women's national team's equal pay fight, committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) brought up "insulting and inexcusable" disparities in weight room equipment available to men's and women's teams during March Madness.
"What kind of message do you think this unequal treatment sends to college athletes?" Maloney asked Rapinoe, as she pulled up side-by-side photos of the weight rooms for all to see.
"For an organization like the NCAA, similar to the U.S. Soccer Federation, that's a non-profit, it's just absolutely unacceptable," Rapinoe said.
"To say that you value your student athletes ... [and] to have your women's players show up for one rack of dumbbells, is just completely unacceptable. Someone, at some point, thought to themselves that was OK."
She continued, calling out NCAA president Mark Emmert by name: "For Mark Emmert and the executives at the NCAA, you just simply have to do better."
The NCAA has since apologized for the disparities, and improved the accommodations for women's teams at their tournament in San Antonio. Rapinoe, though, called those new accommodations "still unacceptable."
"It's not to the standard needed to perform at that level, and it's certainly not to the standard of equal that the men have," she said.
Rapinoe also answered questions about the USWNT's gender discrimination lawsuit, and about the gender pay gap more broadly. She and teammates are set to meet with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
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