ACC/Big Ten Challenge 2020 reminds women’s unequal footing in sports.

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( College basketball isn’t too far away. The schedules for everything in all areas of human life have been thrown off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The money machine college sports will continue to churn on and that is displayed by the recent announcement of the official matchups and dates for the 2020 ACC-Big Ten Challenge for men’s basketball. There are a lot fascinating and fun matchups like North Carolina at Iowa and Penn State at Virginia Tech. However, there was also the announcement that the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was canceled this season for women’s basketball. The popularity and following of men’s major college basketball is significantly higher than women’s college basketball so it is not a huge surprise it was canceled. However, there was a lost opportunity for colleges to show rare support for women’s athletics by finding a way to continue the ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge, that has been going on since 2007.

The commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, known as the ACC, is John Swofford and he plays a huge part of the continued success of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Although the ACC features a college football juggernaut in Clemson, the conference is considered more of a “basketball” conference due to the presence of bluebloods like North Carolina and Duke and programs with notable history like Virginia, NC State, and Florida State. Regarding the canceling of the women’s basketball ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Swofford said it was the Big Ten’s decision.


The coronavirus has ravaged the funds of colleges throughout the country and college sports has suffered in a major way as well. It is easy to forget that one of the biggest sports casualities of the pandemic was the canceling of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments earlier this year. But the male college basketball players in the Big Ten and ACC will get to enjoy some unique competition after losing the opportunity on the biggest stages of the NCAA Tournament while the women don’t.

When the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was introduced for women’s basketball back in 2007, John Swofford said, “To be able to showcase our women’s basketball teams in premier competition with the Big Ten Conference in a great event like this will create excitement and enthusiasm with our participating teams and their fans.” Since that time, the Big Ten and ACC have established credible programs in women’s hoops like Michigan, Iowa, and NC State along with top level programs like Maryland and Louisville. There were several women’s basketball teams from both conferences in the final 2019-20 Women’s College Basketball polls that did not conclude with a champion crowned.

The question of money is one of the biggest ones regarding having women’s basketball teams travel states to play other teams in that ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It is always important to mention that major college basketball coaches, both men and women make over six figure salaries, while the players aren’t paid at all. Power 5 conference commissioners in conferences like the ACC and the Big Ten both make at least a couple a million dollars a year so it would have been a terrific notion to see Swofford and current Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, who has had an extremely challenging first year, make some things happen financially to continue the same opportunity for competition given to the college women as they did the college men.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines