Tegan Graham witnessed firsthand the fiasco that was the NCAA Tournament on the women’s side last year. She saw the poor excuse for a weight room. She experienced the differences in quality of gift bags, food and even COVID-19 tests.
That sparked within in her a need for more information and a desire to impact change. So the senior guard on the BYU women’s basketball team decided to devote her master’s thesis to gender equity in Division I sports. And she did that by recording a podcast called “Second Class Citizens” in which she talks to sports economists, academics, Big 12 athletic directors and others about the issues at hand.
The podcast was released in full Thursday and contains eight episodes, each about 15 minutes long. It’s available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
The release of Graham’s podcast comes just as the NCAA Tournament for both men and women is set to begin this weekend. The Cougars women will face Villanova on Saturday in the first round, while the men were left out of the bracket this year.
But what’s significant is this is the first year the women’s field was expanded to include 68 teams, just like the men. It’s also the first year the official March Madness branding will be used for the women, just like the men. Those changes get Graham excited about the future.
“I think there’s going to be big changes, especially this tournament,” Graham said Sunday. “I think there’s a lot of pressure on the NCAA to drastically improve from last year’s tournament.”
Cougars coach Jeff Judkins, who has been coaching women’s basketball for more than 20 years, said the women deserve to have their Big Dance experience be equal to men.
“Basketball is becoming way more popular in the female game — more crowds, more support, better coaches, the players are getting to be a lot better, TV exposure,” Judkins said. “All those things are coming into place. It’s exciting to be part of it.
“Twenty years ago when I started, it wasn’t like what it is right now. I think it’s just going to keep growing.”
For Graham, this year will be her last as a Division I college athlete. And while her podcast is just one element to the overall conversation surrounding gender equity in sports, she thinks there is no better time than March to continue that conversation.
“There’s a long way to go, but that conversation is kind of vital right now around this time to make sure that conversation is still being had with people who have power and influence to make change,” Graham said.
• Women’s basketball will face Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
• Men’s basketball didn’t get into the NCAA Tournament, but did get the No. 2 seed in the NIT.
• BYU football’s defensive line is a year older and looking to improve on last season.
• Jacob Conover is still fighting to be BYU’s backup QB.
• Sara Hamson lost her starting job with women’s basketball this season, but found her self-confidence in the process.