The first president of the WNBA, Val Ackerman, recently submitted a report to the NCAA with regard to women's basketball. The report proposes changes Ackerman felt are necessary to relieve the attendance stagnation of the sport.
Val Ackerman was hired by the NCAA in November to assess the state of the women's game. In a report submitted last week, Ackerman advised a series of ideas that would help. They included moving the Final Four back to a Friday-Sunday format, exploring a two-site super regional for the second week of the NCAA tournament and returning to the top 16 teams host the first two rounds. In Ackerman's proposal, the eight-team super regionals would be awarded to sites for three years at a time.
Not that long ago, the top sixteen seeds of the women's basketball NCAA tournament hosted four team regionals much as NCAA baseball does now. As such, almost every team which hosted moved on to the sweet sixteen. Because of this, regionals were moved to neutral sites, well, as neutral as can be for Duke or UNC playing in Raleigh or Greensboro. With the first weekend neutral sites, attendance suffered; thus, the suggestion that the NCAA return to the top sixteen seeds hosting the first weekend format.
In addition to having the top sixteen seeds host in the first round, the four second weekend regionals would be replaced by two eight team super regionals. Another proposal is to have the top 32 seeds host on the first weekend. What would happend after the first round games is not discussed. There would be 32 winners. Where would these winners play their next game? Maybe the better seeded teams would host the second round games.
Why not follow the NCAA baseball and softball tournament formats? Have the top sixteen seeds host a four game regional followed by eight super regional games using a best 2 of 3 games format. Instead of a final four have a final eight tournament in one site. That would be interesting; however, would it increase interest? I cannot see were changing the current final format of Sunday and Tuesday to Friday and Sunday would increase fan attendance or interest by very much. The softball tournament starts two weeks before the baseball tournament. Should women's NCAA basketball follow this format?
Another interesting suggestion is moving to a twenty-four second shot clock with four ten minute quarters. With such a change, adoption of the ten second back court rule should be stopped, and the five second guarded closely rule should be vacated. With 24 seconds to shoot, why bother with a ten second back court violation or five second guarded closely rule? When the team has too shoot, they have to shoot, not frolic in the back court or dribble forever.