Lewis Rice Completes NCAA Gender Equity Assessment

The NCAA engaged Lewis Rice to assess its progress in implementing the recommendations set out in Section 6.1 and 6.2 of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP’s (“Kaplan”) Phase I External Gender Equity Review (“EGER”) and Phase II EGER, which were released in 2021. Lewis Rice was retained to assess – externally and independently – the NCAA’s progress in implementing Kaplan’s recommendations regarding 88 of the 90 championships it operates. The only championships excluded from the assessment were Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball. 

Lewis Rice’s assessment not only tracks the NCAA’s progress on implementation of the recommendations, but also helps communicate the NCAA’s blueprint to effect change and to sustain gender equity at its championships. In circumstances where the NCAA has not yet implemented Kaplan’s recommendations, Lewis Rice’s assessment outlines the NCAA’s rationale as to why not.

To carry out this important work, Lewis Rice assembled a team of attorneys who are also former college athletes and athletic department administrators. Their lived experiences and practical understanding of college sports gave them a significant head start in conducting the assessment. They also brought to bear a breadth of experience in Title IX compliance and litigation, higher education, external investigations and sports law. 

From March 21 until July 31, 2023, the Lewis Rice team gathered and reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed 41 NCAA staff members (including members of the Senior Management Team and President Charlie Baker) and 29 NCAA committee members. They also met in person with the Division I, II and III National Student-Athlete Advisory Committees, reviewed the results of student-athlete surveys and conducted site visits to 16 NCAA championships.

“Throughout our engagement, we were steadfastly dedicated to ensuring the integrity and independence of our assessment,” said Sarah Mullen, lead attorney on the Lewis Rice assessment team. “Collaboration, feedback and input from stakeholders, specifically from NCAA leadership, staff, committee members and student-athletes, were necessary to the integrity of our final work product, not an undue influence that jeopardized its independence.”

You can read the progress report here.

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About Lewis Rice’s Sports Advisory & Consulting Practice

Lewis Rice offers a full-service Sport Advisory & Consulting practice with a comprehensive, individualized approach unrivaled in the industry. Our team of advisors have been in-house at educational institutions and understand the high pressure and winning mentality of successful athletic organizations. Our attorneys draw on this real-world experience to counsel colleges and universities on measures to achieve their mission, vision, and goals, while reducing risk and promoting a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and supportive environment.