SBD/October 25, 2013/Colleges

NCAA Close To Changing Women's Hoops Tourney Format In Order To Boost Attendance

Semifinal games would be played the day before the men's Final Four
The NCAA has "moved closer to changing the format of the Women’s Basketball Final Four to Friday-Sunday," and it could happen "as early as the 2015 tournament," according to John Altavilla of the HARTFORD COURANT. The D-I Women’s Basketball Committee "formally made the recommendation during meetings this week in Indianapolis." Now it "must be approved by the Division I Championship/Sports Management Cabinet." But that is "considered simply a formality." The event would "continue to be held on the same weekend as the Men’s Final Four." Only the "formula would change with the semifinals now being played the day before the men, as opposed to the day after." The committee had discussed "moving the Women’s Final Four to the weekend after the Men’s Final Four, but has decided against it." The committee also decided that "allowing the top-16 seeds to host on the first weekend will enhance the student-athlete experience by potentially drawing more fans to the arenas." The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association "expressed concern that playing on home courts during the regional rounds created unfair competitive advantages for Final Four berths." That is why the committee "agreed that future Regionals should take place at neutral sites" (COURANT.com, 10/24). ESPNW's Mechelle Voepel wrote, "The bottom line now seems to be this: Get more people in the seats. Don't sacrifice near-guaranteed good (or at least decent) attendance for the sake of specific television windows, or to avoid conflicts with the vast attention given the men's tournament." Give the people who already are "fans of women's hoops the best opportunity to see NCAA games in person." ESPN has its "own parameters in judging what is best for broadcasting the event, and will evaluate the proposed changes thusly." The NCAA seems to "now reflect an understanding that women's basketball still has heavy ties to its grass-roots fan base, and it's better to make the tournament fit as well as possible into those fans' schedules/lives, both time-wise and budget-wise" (ESPNW.com, 10/24).
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