There may be some very important changes in the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament in the future thanks to the proposals and suggestions made in an extensive study authored by former WNBA President Val Ackerman.
Today at the Travelers Championship, my colleague Matt Conyers asked Geno Auriemma what he thought of it all:
“I haven’t read all of it. I was saying earlier it is one of those things where probably if we’re not careful it is just another report by a really good group of people who mean well but unless we do something about it it doesn’t mean anything. As I said earlier, it took us 30 years to get the 30 second back court. I think there are some great ideas, I think [Ackerman] is incredibly bright and she has the best interests of the game at heart and I hope that we can get some of those suggestions acted upon.
” The problem we have in women’s basketball is we want to try and be nice and be fair, fair to everybody, and life isn’t fair. We can’t be polling 365 coaches and what do you think is best for the game because we’re never going to get a consensus. We got to make some decisions for what is best for the game and people are going to have to maybe suck it up and say ‘this might not be in my best interest but its in the best interest of the game and we need to get moving on that. We’ve hit a little bit of a plateau. I think we’ve got a great product but we’re just like any other product, if you don’t keep working to make it better at some point you start to lose that little thing you have that is so unique. I know one of the things we’ve talked about, was little things.
“There are certain things you can’t impact right away. But you can impact the tournament right away. I think some of the suggestions about taking the tournament back to Friday-Sunday I think is great. There’s a great suggestion about breaking up the top 32 off and letting the next 32 almost be like your in the NCAA tournament but it is a play-in game. We’ve got to do some things that are kind of innovative. I think baseball has done that. I think we’ve tried to be too much like the men. Let’s play on neutral courts. Let’s play in domes. That’s all well and good but we got to make sure we’re ready for that. I think that’s something that we have to keep getting together and keep evaluating year after year. As I said, baseball has figured out a way to do it and it works great. They all end up in Omaha and everybody lives happily ever after and it’s a great tournament. Softball has managed to figure it out. They run their NCAA tournament and everybody ends up in Oklahoma City every year. So I think we need to take some lessons from other sports and find some cities that want to host us and want to do it on a regular basis and let’s let them run with it instead of running around every year, every year.
“Let’s find who wants us. Everybody has an opportunity to do great things when they’re hosting a tournament. The Orange Bowl is in the same spot every year. So is the Rose Bowl. Nobody is complaining about that. So I think we need to take some lessons from other sports and see what can do to help our sport.”