NCAA men’s bracket & living wage policies (for entertainment purposes only)

It’s March Madness Monday for fans of the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which begins later this week. This is the day when work productivity across American slows to a crawl as people fill out brackets based on seedings, possible upsets, strength-of-schedule, conferences, geographical or academic loyalties, mascots, and school colors. Already I’m scrambling to create a bracket, as my standard all-Jesuit final four can’t happen this year because at most two of the three Jesuit institutions with teams in the tournament – Gonzaga (1), Marquette (5), and Saint Louis (13) – can make it to the final four…

…but whenever I see a list a schools, I refer back to this project and last year’s (2018) list of 32 American higher education institutions (HEIs) with (either all or part of) a living wage policy publicly available on their institution’s website – that about 1% of all four year HEIs (see my AASHE webinar here).

Out of the 68 teams making the 2019 men’s tournament, six institutions made last year’s list – that’s 8 percent of the field. Those institutions are 13 seed UC Irvine (2018 Living Wage Policy score 70), 5 seed Auburn University (45), 5 seed University of Wisconsin-Madison (35), 8 seed Virginia Commonwealth (25), 8 seed Utah State (20), and 4 seed Virginia Tech (20).

Five of those teams are in the upper half of their regional bracket (i.e., 8 seed or higher), and five of the six can make it to the “sweet 16” (with an upset, UC Irvine can play Wisconsin later this week in San Jose – go Anteaters!).

I’m interested to see if additional tournament teams have instituted living wage policies since last year. I’m about to begin soliciting participation from chief human resource officers (CHROs) in our 2019 data collection effort to answer that question. As before, I’ll be asking if living wage policies and/or practices are in effect; I’ll be asking institutions with policies to provide them, and I’ll be inviting CHROs at colleges with living wage practices to be interviewed about their institution’s practices.

Go Anteaters!


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