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When it comes to women coaching women's teams, Big 12 falls well below the national average

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Ayoka Lee moves a basketball away from a defensive player
Colin E. Braley
/
The Associated Press
Kansas State's Ayoka Lee scored a NCAA women's basketball single-game record of 61 points in January 2022

While 63% of NCAA Division I women's basketball teams have female coaches, the rate is 40% in the Big 12 conference.

This year, the NCAA instituted changes to promote gender equity in college basketball. However, gender gaps still remain as only 63% of NCAA Division I women's college basketball teams have a woman as coach.

Male coaches have more jobs open to them than their female counterparts. Nicole LaVoi, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, explains.

"Men are afforded the opportunity to coach women. There are very, very few women that are afforded the opportunity to coach men. And that's what we need to change."

Danielle Donehew, the executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, emphasizes the importance of representation in college basketball to close the coaching gender gap.

"You want your student athletes to see people that look like them in leadership positions," says Donehew.

After controversy last spring, the NCAA conducted a gender equity review. Changes to this year's women's tournament were implemented to include using March Madness branding and expanding the field to 68 teams, like the men's tournament, but the coaching inequity remains.

Making college basketball more equal across genders includes more than the coaching staff. Donehew wants the NCAA to restructure the women's basketball broadcast media contracts and revenue distribution policies so they are comparable to men's basketball.

"There are still many more steps to go," says Donehew.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Eleanor Nash is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date. You can reach her at enash@kcur.org
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