NCAA Discusses Moving Women’s Tourney

julie harper 0924

We've previously discussed moving the women's Big East Tournament to Madison Square Garden (it's not happening, at least for now), and last Thursday, the NCAA Division I women's basketball committee announced it would conduct a study into whether moving the women's NCAA Tournament back a week would be better for ratings and exposure.

Any such move could also affect practice and regular season start dates, recruiting periods and postseason tournaments. The thinking, of course, is that the payout  -- the women not having to share the national stage with the men for March Madness -- would outweigh the potential concerns of rearranging the schedule.

Details from the NCAA:

NCAA President Mark Emmert will assemble a panel of key stakeholders from the membership to review the study and forward a recommendation.

After reviewing data, survey and research information, the committee cited potential benefits to the championship including less head-to-head competition with other NCAA championships, better attendance, more corporate champion/partner activations, greater overall media exposure and expanding growth opportunities for the game.

As often happens, the idea of change isn't fully embraced. And in this case, the argument against it sounds a lot like what we were hearing about moving the Big East Tournament to MSG. Here's Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey via USA Today.

"I wasn't for it when it was initially brought up," Mulkey said. "I think women's basketball fans are going to follow the tournament no matter when it's held.

"If this is trying to attract more fans of men's basketball, why don't they move our season back a week and hold our tournament before the men's? I don't want basketball fans to just turn away once the men's final is held. I'm afraid they'd just move on to the Masters or whatever the next big thing would be."

And that's the thing: you can always make a case for why another date would be better, but it's not clear that there's much overlap between fans of the men's and women's game (obvious exception: UConn supporters). What we wrote about the men's and women's Big East Tournaments holds here, too. "Unless there's reason to think that such an arrangement would outpace the [current setup], it probably not worth it."

The NCAA says it has no time frame for completion of the study.

Contact Us