With many superstar coaches in attendance Monday in Indianapolis – including Geno Auriemma, Muffet McGraw, Tara VanDerveer, Sherri Coale, Jeff Walz, ,Vivian Stringer and Jen Rizzotti – recommendations to alter the look of the NCAA Tournament and women’s Final Four were agreed to at NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis.
It was recommended the Women’s Final Four be moved a weekend later, after completion of the men’s Final Four, with a Friday-Sunday format. Also, the top 16 seeds should host first- and second-round games for future Division I Women’s Basketball Championships.
There will be two super regionals feeding into the Women’s Final Four, instead of the current four-regional format. These super regionals would host on a semi-permanent basis in the same city, which would allow a community a chance to market the event. The super regionals and Women’s Final Four would be hosted in the same locations in multiple years on a rotating basis, as well as conducting championships for all three divisions on the same weekend for the 2016 Women’s Final Four, which will be held in Indianapolis.
All recommendations from Monday’s summit can only move forward through the NCAA governance structure. The only change likely to impact the 2014 Tournament will be the Top 16 seeds being asked to host first and second-round games. There will still be four regional finals of four teams each, assigned through a bidding process, that will produce Final Four teams.
“There was a tremendous amount of energy in the room,” said NCAA Vice President of Women’s Basketball Anucha Browne. “We got after some of the sensitive and critical issues facing our game. There was a strong consensus that we can’t continue to do what we’re doing.”
The goal was to forward some of the ideas from the white paper written by Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman.
The flow of the game and freedom of movement were emphasized. Protecting shooters and dribblers and lessening some aspects of the physicality so prominent now were discussed. Other on-court items that were discussed were going from two halves to four quarters, using a 24-second shot clock and widening the lane.
The participants in the meeting also discussed the possibility of reducing scholarships from 15-13, but after a prolonged debate, it was decided that the limit should remain where it currently stands. This was mainly due to the injury factor in women’s basketball.