Trademark ‘March Madness’ missing in women’s NCAA Tournament

March 23, 2021 GMT
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UConn guard Nika Muhl (10) reacts after she was injured during the first half of a college basketball game against High Point in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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UConn guard Nika Muhl (10) reacts after she was injured during the first half of a college basketball game against High Point in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Looking around the basketball facilities hosting women’s NCAA Tournament games there are no signs of March Madness.

At least not the iconic trademark “March Madness” that the NCAA uses to promote games this month.

It’s not on the courts, which say “NCAA Women’s Basketball” or feature the names and logos of the host teams.

“I didn’t realize that was an NCAA thing, but I certainly think that’s something that needs to be discussed and changed,” UConn’s acting head coach Chris Dailey said Monday when asked about March Madness.

“I think it looks a little embarrassing on the court when you see ‘Women’s Basketball’ and nothing connected to March Madness. There are women playing, so clearly it’s women’s basketball. I think everyone can get that. So, I think that certainly it’s something that needs to be discussed.”

When asked about the absent trademark, the NCAA said in a statement it will continue listening to the expectations of members and women’s basketball leadership while considering relations with “valued broadcast partners.”

“We are committed to working with all constituents to determine the best way forward for women’s basketball including the use of March Madness logos if desired,” the NCAA added in its statement.

It is another in a list of differences between the tournaments and became a topic of discussion after the Wall Street Journal reported Monday the NCAA’s trademark registrations for the phrase “March Madness” allow the organization to use it for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

But NCAA doesn’t use them for both, at least not in same way. The attention being given the growing list of differences has caught the attention of administrators outside NCAA headquarters.

“There is a general concern among commissioners we need to do better by women’s basketball,” said Rich Ensor, commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and chair of the college commissioners association, which makes recommendations to the NCAA on various topics. “We’ll be discussing it further with the NCAA leadership team in the very near future.”

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said everyone must keep speaking up about the disparities and that the NCAA needs to investigate itself regarding the differences.

“Somebody needs to be held responsible, I don’t know who,” Staley said. “But the investigative work needs to be done to see where things have fallen short.”

Tennessee coach Kellie Harper just uses the term March Madness because she said that’s what this is for women — just like it is for the men.

“We’re in the middle of March Madness and to watch the games being played today and in the next couple weeks, you have to use that term,” Harper said. “It’s what we’re doing right now. It just makes sense.”


On the back of Stony Brook’s road jerseys all season long has been the word “Equality.” The purpose was to support the Black Lives Matter movement, to show solidarity and unity instead of an individual’s last name.

It took on added meaning in the Seawolves first-ever NCAA Tournament game as they faced Arizona. With all of the differences that have highlighted between the men’s and women’s tournaments this year, it reflected Stony Brook’s support for women’s equality even in a 79-44 loss.

“Definitely, I know in our conference, it’s something that we really want to have an end racism campaign,” Stony Brook coach Caroline McCombs said. “We want to continue to fight for women and equality and our players will continue to take a stand to do that.”


First-team AP All-American NaLyssa Smith is so close to home for the women’s NCAA Tournament, yet the Baylor junior forward can only see her family at the games.

“I live like 12 minutes away from here, so it’s kind of right down the street,” Smith said during a Zoom call from the team’s hotel in downtown San Antonio. “If anybody knows my family, like if we weren’t in a bubble, they would be right at this hotel with me every five minutes. So it’s a real different feeling that I’ve got to get used to. But I know they’re going to be at the games loud and proud.”

Smith has been in the Alamodome plenty of times, but had never played there before scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds in second-seeded Baylor’s NCAA-opening win over Jackson State. She went to high school in nearby Converse, Texas, and said her team never made it to the state tournament to play in the dome.


UConn starting guard Nika Muhl, who sprained her ankle in the Huskies’ first-round win over High Point, is listed by the team as questionable for Tuesday’s game against against Syracuse.

Muhl came down from a shot attempt on the foot of High Point’s Chyna McMichel, twisting her right ankle in the second quarter. She had to be helped off the court and her ankle was heavily wrapped in ice.

The freshman from Croatia suffered a similar injury to her other ankle in the Big East Tournament opener against St. John’s, where she also was helped off the court. She returned the next night.

“If there’s any way Nika can be on the court, she’ll be on the court,” interim head coach Chris Dailey said Monday.


The number of confirmed positives for COVID-19 is up to two at the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA has run nearly 10,000 tests through Sunday on the players, coaches and others helping put on this tournament using daily antigen testing. Only one positive had been recorded through Saturday. Any false positives are quickly retested using the PCR test, which is considered more accurate.


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