The National Association of Collegiate Athletics has built its trademark phrase “March Madness” into one of the most powerful brands in the sport. It is stuck on the courts, stadiums and broadcasts of the lucrative NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and is absent from the women’s tournament.
The reason for that absence is that the NCAA has retained the use of the “March Madness” brand from women’s college basketball. He has used the memorable phrase to turn the men’s tournament into a billion dollar behemoth, and at the same time refused to use it for the women’s tournament that has gained popularity in recent years.
The upshot is that the NCAA has retained a valuable asset from the women’s tournament even as it now says it is committed to putting it on an equal footing with the men’s tournament. A giant “March Madness” logo is dotted in the center of the men’s tournament courts in Indianapolis, while the women’s courts do not have an obvious tournament logo or simply say “NCAA Women’s Basketball.”
The NCAA has come under pressure in recent days after images of weight training facilities, food, and other aspects of men’s and women’s tournaments went viral on social media, sparking outrage and promises from the partnership to do better. On Friday, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said the NCAA has “organized basketball under one umbrella with the goal of consistency and collaboration.”
The NCAA has retained the “March Madness” brand for men even though its trademark registrations for the phrase allow its use for both men’s and women’s tournaments. The NCAA confirmed that its broadcast agreements for the men’s tournament do not prohibit it from using the brand for the women’s tournament.