NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Committee reviews planning efforts for upcoming season and championship
At its annual fall meeting recently in Cleveland, the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee reviewed planning efforts for the upcoming season and the 2024 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
The committee voted to update one of the principles for placing teams into the championship bracket, with the No. 1 overall seeded team being assigned to a regional pod with game days on Friday and Sunday. The decision will reward the overall top-seeded team by ensuring it has the most possible rest time between the regional final and Women's Final Four.
Committee members also met with the Cleveland Local Organizing Committee, which provided an update on its planning efforts for the 2024 Women's Final Four, to be played April 5 and 7 in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
As part of its preparation for the 2023-24 regular season and championship, the committee also heard from representatives from ESPN, who provided a detailed look at broadcast coverage plans for the upcoming season and developing plans for the championship.
There will be two 30-minute top 16 reveal shows in 2024, with shows taking place at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time Feb. 15 and Feb. 29. The 68 teams participating in the 2024 championship will be announced on Selection Sunday, March 17, as part of the ESPN selection show. For the 21st consecutive year, ESPN platforms will exclusively present all games of the 2024 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship, with ABC broadcasting the national championship game for the second straight season.
"There is a great anticipation for the tipoff of the 2023-24 season in November, with the committee sharing in that excitement," said Lisa Peterson, chair of the committee and senior associate commissioner for sports management with the Pac-12 Conference. "The championship had great success with the new two-site regional format last season, and that will continue in 2024 with Albany (New York) and Portland (Oregon) hosting regional play. A key learning from our first season with the new format was we should reward the No. 1 overall seeded team by allowing that team the most possible rest time between the regional final and the Women's Final Four. We made that decision unanimously."
The fall meeting also provided an opportunity for the committee to review the NCAA operating plan and women's basketball strategic plan and priorities that will lead to further growth of the championship. Short- and long-term discussions and decisions are continuing, reflecting efforts for the championship to elevate the student-athlete and fan experience, grow the women's basketball fan base and audience, increase and enhance exposure, and strengthen operational and financial performance.
The committee also continued discussion on possible bracket expansion beyond the current 68-team tournament. The Division I Board of Directors and the Transformation Committee requested evaluation of such an expansion.
The Transformation Committee affirmed the total number of championship-specific opportunities and overall number of postseason opportunities supported by the NCAA should continue to be an equal number for men's and women's basketball. A final recommendation is due to the Division I Finance Committee in January 2024.
The Women's Basketball Committee supported continuing the requirement to use a shot clock showing tenths of a second for regional and Women's Final Four games only, since those are predetermined sites. During the First Four and first- and second-round bid process for the 2024 championship, prospective hosts will indicate if they have the tenth-of-a-second shot clock and if they use it during the regular season.
Once that information is gathered, the committee will review whether all prospective hosts have the tenth-of-a-second shot clock before determining whether to uniformly institute it at all championship sites.
Implementation of live video on the bench for coaching purposes for all rounds of the 2024 championship was supported by the committee, which directed the NCAA staff to provide an operational and funding update to the committee at a future meeting. If live video on the bench is used, the NCAA will provide devices and manage the program to ensure all teams have the same equipment, software and connectivity.
The committee also continued its review of team sheet organization, specifically the exploration of quadrants, as a tool during the selection process. The committee will review the matter again at its 2024 spring and summer meetings before considering implementation for the 2024-25 season.