Bet on Fairness for This Year’s NCAA Brackets

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma reacts on the sidelines against the St. John's Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena on February 2, 2013, in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Debby Wong. Photograph. Shutterstock.

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma reacts on the sidelines against the St. John's Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena on February 2, 2013, in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Debby Wong. Photograph. Shutterstock.

March 17, 2015

As more than 100 college and university women’s and men’s basketball teams rev up for this year’s March Madness, we root for our home teams and hope for clean, fair play. Last year, we invited you to join AAUW in using gender equality to guide your bracket selections; and this year, we are at it again!  It is disheartening that women coaches are still so significantly underpaid compared with their male counterparts. Plus, all the coaches for men’s sports teams are still paid more — often significantly more — on average than coaches for women’s sports.

The American Gaming Association estimates that about 40 million people will fill out more than 70 million brackets predicting the outcome of this year’s “big dance.” That’s more brackets than votes that President Barack Obama received in the 2012 presidential election! Imagine if just 10 percent of those 70 million brackets followed our model. That would be around 7 million people across the country engaging on the value of fair pay policies. Take a stand for basic fairness by supporting schools that treat women and men’s sports equitably.

Betting on schools with smaller gender pay gaps is also a great way to promote one of the NCAA’s stated values: a commitment to an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds.

AAUW’s salary showdown brackets predict the victors of the women’s and men’s championships by calculating the gap between the average head coach salary for women’s and men’s teams at each school in the tournament and then advancing the school with the smaller gender pay gap to the next round.

According to our brackets, we are once again sporting red and blue in honor of the University of Dayton. In both the women’s and men’s brackets, the University of Dayton comes out victorious. At Dayton, the salaries women’s sports head coaches earn are, on average, 93 percent of what men’s sports head coaches earn.

If our brackets play out, Dayton, an 11 seed in the men’s bracket and a 7 seed in the women’s bracket, would achieve the feat of securing the men’s and women’s championships concurrently. Though Dayton is the only school to be in the final four for both of our salary showdown brackets, by our count 22 teams — out of the men’s 68 total and the women’s 64 total — are in both brackets.

More about our method: Our analysis includes head coach salaries across all sports, not just basketball. We divided the average annual institutional salary per head coach of all women’s teams by the same measure for all men’s teams at the same school to determine the gap. All average salary data used is available through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Because the Department of Education data includes all head coaches, football coaches, who often garner the largest salary at an institution, are part of the calculation. Even with that caveat, the comparison still illustrates a school’s relative investment in women’s sports versus men’s sports. (Note: Our winner, Dayton, has a football program.) Bear in mind that most NCAA sports programs rely on subsidies to balance their budgets, some to the tune of several million dollars. College sports almost always lose money, but some schools do a much better job of paying their coaches equitably.

Men’s bracket breakdown: Our analysis predicts a lot of upsets. If our brackets played out, all the men’s number 1 and number 2 seeds, all but Notre Dame of the number 3 seeds, and all the number 4 seeds would lose their first games. Joining Dayton in the final four are Davidson (73 percent pay gap), Hampton (68 percent pay gap), and Harvard (63 percent pay gap).

Click to download PDF.


Women’s bracket breakdown: We predict further upsets for the women’s bracket. No number 1 seeds and just Tennessee of the number 2 seeds would progress beyond the first game. None of the number 3 seeds and only California of the number 4 seeds would progress beyond round one as well. In the women’s final four, we have Dayton, Princeton (91 percent pay gap), American (85 percent pay gap), and Florida Gulf Coast (76 percent pay gap).

Click to download PDF.


By:   |   March 17, 2015

Join the Conversation

You must be logged in to post a comment.