The NCAA women’s basketball committee is backing a move to play the Final Four two days earlier, starting next season.
The Final Four would go to a Friday-Sunday format instead of the current Sunday-Tuesday configuration.
The committee also decided that the top 16 seeds should host the first two rounds. The move would hopefully bolster attendance in the first two rounds, which has become stagnant over the past few years. Last season, the NCAA averaged 5,466 for all rounds – ranking 17th since the tournament began in 1982.
“Growing the game and attendance is what we’re trying to do,” said associate commissioner of the Pac-12 Chris Dawson, who is on the women’s committee. “These moves will hopefully bolster that. Moving off the Sunday-Tuesday format helps families and fans be able to attend games as they won’t need to take as many days off work.”
A drawback of the move is that well-attended sites like Gonzaga and Delaware likely wouldn’t have a chance to host anymore. The committee also recommended moving the start date of the first round up a day, which would put them directly head-to-head with the men’s tournament.
The regionals, which are at host schools for this season’s tournament, will move to a neutral site and also move up the dates one day. The idea of having two super regionals didn’t make it to a vote.
The committee also decided to ask Division II and Division III for input on the idea of a combined championship that would take place on the same weekend as the 2016 Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis.