By Greg Johnson
The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is gathering information from all 31 conferences and other stakeholders to see if it is feasible to “slide” the women’s tournament one week later, meaning the Women’s Final Four would be played the week after the Men’s Final Four.
Members of the Futures Strategies Subcommittee will assess how a move would affect the game, including the movement of dates and locations of future conference tournaments and the impact of the move on the regular season. Those impacts would include practice dates, first date of competition, the recruiting calendar and future host availability.
Besides the membership survey, the committee is also requesting that media partner ESPN provide perspective on the effect of moving the tournament. The review continues an ongoing discussion about whether adjusting the tournament dates would help grow the game.
“We have to get the information in front of us because this is a complex issue,” said Greg Christopher, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “We have to look at the impact from a student-athlete standpoint, fan standpoint and television standpoint. When you look at all the institutional, conference and possible recruiting calendar impacts, it gets complicated.”
The Women’s Final Four has been played on a Sunday-Tuesday format since 2003 alongside the men’s Saturday-Monday format. The women’s first/second rounds and regionals are played Saturday-Monday and Sunday-Tuesday.
The committee has received feedback from student-athletes, coaches and fans regarding their preference for the championship games to be centered on the weekend, with fewer games played at the start of the work week.
If the committee decides that sliding the tournament one week later is best for the women’s game, it will also have to determine an implementation date and how that would relate to television, hotel and other business considerations.
The full committee will discuss the issue in January during the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. A committee recommendation is expected in the first quarter of 2012.
Future Women’s Final Four locations are Denver (2012), New Orleans (2013), Nashville (2014), Tampa Bay (2015) and Indianapolis (2016).