Those expected to attend Monday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball White Paper Summit include:
By Greg Johnson
A who’s who list that includes conference representatives, campus athletics administrators, women’s basketball head coaches, an on-court official, television executives and other stakeholders are set to gather for the NCAA Women’s Basketball White Paper Summit Monday in Indianapolis.
The Sept. 23 all-day gathering at the NCAA national office is the follow-up to a white paper written by Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman, which was released in June. Ackerman was hired as a consultant by the NCAA championships and alliances staff to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the sport.
Ackerman conducted more than 100 personal interviews during the 2012-13 women’s basketball season. She summarized her conclusions and recommendations about how best to position and manage the sport in several areas: values and priorities; the Division I Women’s Basketball Championships; the women’s game; the business of women’s basketball; and governance and management of the sport.
Ackerman’s report was well received throughout the women’s basketball community, and many are ready to see what ideas can be moved forward.
The invitees represent a diverse spectrum of the game, including veterans who have experienced its stages of growth first hand as well as some of the newer voices in the coaching community.
“Ideally, we want to gain a consensus on the top four or five priorities and walk out with an action plan that we can move forward,” said Anucha Browne, the NCAA vice president of women’s basketball championships. “Some of the areas of the white paper will require more time before something could be implemented. But, there are certain things that we will want to do in a shorter time frame.”
One example of a near-term goal would be the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee’s decision this summer to immediately allow regional host schools to play on their home courts.
The rationale behind this move to host on home courts was designed to improve attendance, enhance the broadcast look of the games and create a better in-arena atmosphere for the student-athletes.
Committee members are also examining longer-range enhancements that could be pursued in a timely fashion, which includes a review of the competitive format for all rounds of the championship beginning in 2015. Other areas to be looked at are:
Browne knows that this group of women’s basketball leaders won’t be shy at expressing their opinions and looks forward to developing consensus opinions on the best ways for the game to proceed.
“That will be the best way to define success of this summit,” Browne said. “We know this can’t move forward without the agreement of the membership. Even if we can’t act upon something right away, it would be great to say that the majority of these stakeholders at the summit agree on which recommendations are in the best interest of women’s basketball and need to move forward.”
Browne feels the summit will maintain the momentum of the release of the white paper.
“The timing is important because our next meeting with the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is coming up in October,” Browne said. “We also have a Division I Women’s Basketball Issues Committee meeting on the horizon and are planning for an even larger scale summit at the 2014 Women’s Final Four in Nashville. We will be making decisions that will affect the long term health of women’s basketball.”