WASHINGTON — Teams at the NCAA women's basketball tournament finally have a weight room.
A day after the NCAA was heavily criticized for not having an adequate facility for the women's teams to lift, the organization created a fully stocked workout room at the convention center near the practice courts.
The NCAA had originally told teams in a manual that there wouldn’t be a weight room facility until after the second round when only 16 teams would remain.
They changed that plan after a tweet from Stanford strength coach Ali Kershner and a video from Oregon’s Sedonia Prince went viral with nearly 16 million views showing off a single rack of dumbbells and yoga mats.
That set off a backlash condemning the inequities between the men’s and women’s tournaments that drew the attention of NBA and WNBA players as well as former coaches. The men had a fully stocked weight room before the start of their tournament. NCAA basketball administrators apologized to the women’s basketball players on Friday for the inequities.
The NCAA said that the workout items shown in Prince’s video were never intended to be the weight room, but just some equipment for teams to use while they waited to get onto the practice court as it was being sanitized.
Now teams can sign up for 45-minute blocks of time to workout in the new weight room. There are heavier weights as well as squat racks, benches and exercises balls. The NCAA brought in a few of the teams strength and conditioning coaches to ensure that the new area was up to their standards.
Several teams took advantage of the facility on Saturday, including Louisville.
“It was great. It’s nice. Everything that we needed,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Our strength coach was pleased, our players were pleased. We appreciate the efforts.”
Prince tweeted out a video thanking the NCAA for listening.
With games starting on Sunday, it’s unclear how many teams will actually take advantage of the new amenity.