That’s a question that comes up a lot in women’s basketball and in women’s sports in general, and it’s one that I find fascinating but ultimately frustrating.
This morning, hours before the Women’s Final Four tipped off in Indianapolis, I appeared on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program to discuss Kye Allums, the George Washington University transgender athlete who went public with his disclosure before the season began.
As I suggested at the time, cultural issues like this always seemingly trump other more pressing topics in women’s sports, and make it difficult for them to reach a broader mainstream appeal. I reiterated that point this morning and continued to express some puzzlement over a self-identified male who wishes to be true to himself but still wants a place – and a scholarship – on a women’s team.
Those were questions he avoided during the interview, and the lack of candor was obvious. I realize this is a young person here, a college student, and so I hesitate to dwell on this point.
I wish OTL instead had focused on what I think is a much more relevant subject about the women’s game today: The growing financial implications of big-money budgets and salaries for the nation’s top programs and coaches. I wrote about that here on Saturday, and another example of that unfolded later on Saturday.
LSU hired UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell, who will make around $900,000 annually, triple the salary she drew while building the Bruins into a nationally prominent program.
Not bad for a coach with three years of head coaching experience.
As a Twitter follower of mine commented about this, “business is business,” and the money being laid out to purloin hot coaching talent reflects the high-stakes pressures that come with the top jobs.
Athletics directors willing to spend that kind of money understand the women’s game is a full-fledged enterprise that long ago dwarfed narrow social causes but that still generate a very bright – and I think unwarranted – media spotlight.