BLOOMINGTON — The Indiana University Women’s basketball team is having a great season. They are ranked number five in the nation and are undefeated.
But the women’s talent isn't what people have been talking about the last few days. Instead, it's the venue in which they played during the Las Vegas Invitational.
"This is not what was described to us as far as what the venue was going to look like what the set up was going to look like, " Teri Moren the Head IU Women’s Basketball coach said.
The Las Vegas invitational was held in a banquet hall at the Mirage Hotel. While coach Moren said these types of events have been held in banquet halls before, this venue didn't meet the teams’ expectations per the tournament's promises.
"What's disappointing is the aesthetics,” Moren said. “It's not a fan-friendly environment. As I said to the site coordinator, as women’s basketball coaches we are trying to move our game forward."
The IU women's basketball game on Saturday against Memphis also started late. According to the play-by-play announcer for the women’s team, a player from Auburn University hit her head during the previous game. Since there wasn't an EMT or paramedic in sight, the Auburn game had to be paused, which forced the IU game to start later than anticipated.
"It took about 45 minutes to get the ambulance to the arena before she was able to be lifted up into the stretcher and taken off the floor,” Austin Render the play-by-play broadcaster for Indiana University Women’s Basketball said. “So that pushed our game back about an hour and 20 minutes. “
Jennifer Drobac is a law professor at Indiana University and an expert on Title 9 which prohibits sex-based discrimination at any school that receives federal funding. She says it's unclear if any Title IX violations were committed but says the university and the NCAA needs to do better.
"We need to as we would say up our game and the organizers need to really start playing in the big leagues when it comes to addressing women’s sports,” Drobac said.
While the women’s team won at the tournament both the coach and those close to the team say the condition of the venue was a loss for women’s basketball.
"This was a major miss in my opinion in terms of helping to grow this game,” Moren said.
"IU had some incredible performances in this event and here we are talking more so about the venue and the tournament itself,” Render said. “So to me that's the biggest disappointment."
A representative from the women’s basketball team says they are not sure if the tournament is being held next year. But even if it is, IU will not be going back.
The Mirage hotel, where the event was held had this to say in a statement following the criticism.
“We take great pride in hosting events of all sizes and providing world-class experiences and accommodations to our guests. Even though MGM Resort and The Mirage were not responsible for organizing or sponsoring the Las Vegas Invitational, as a champion for women’s athletics we regret that this tournament failed to meet expectations. Mr. Polk is not an employee, and we will not be working with his company in the future.”
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