The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has a capacity of 68 teams

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has a capacity of 68 teams

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament is expanding to 68 teams starting this season, giving it an equal number of participants as the men’s championship as part of a coordinated effort to achieve gender parity.

The men’s tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011 with four first-round games traditionally played in Dayton, Ohio. The women’s tournament’s first four matches will take place on the campuses of top-16 teams this season, but they will move to a neutral location to be determined later starting in the 2023 tournament.

“This immediate expansion of the women’s basketball tournament reinforces the fact that leaders within the first division are committed to strengthening aspects of the women’s basketball championship that directly impact student athletes,” said West Virginia State Athletic Director Shane Lyons, Chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. .

“We look forward to the positive change that will happen to the students’ experience in the tournament, particularly in terms of leveling the playing field for the team,” Lyons said.

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Expanding the women’s tournament was among the recommendations made in August after a comprehensive external review of gender equality conducted by law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink. He was commissioned after a social media-driven backlash to disparities in men’s and women’s tournaments, including weight rooms and other facilities.

ESPN will broadcast the first four matches along with the rest of the Women’s Championship matches. The network is also moving its selection show for the tournament from Monday to Sunday — the same as the men’s day. It is the first time since 2005 that the women’s category has been announced on a Sunday.

“The expanded and championship opportunities for UT Division I women’s basketball are of paramount importance,” said UT-San Antonio Athletic Director Lisa Campos, Chair of the Women’s Division I Basketball Oversight Committee.

“This is a transitional year for the tournament, and other areas of improvement, including the opening round matches taking place at a pre-selected location, will be aggressively considered in order to improve the tournament experience.”

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Other recommendations include exploring a joint four-way final with the semi-finals and title games held in the same city on the same weekend, although that won’t happen until at least 2027 with locations already closed up until that point.

The NCAA has already approved the Women’s Championship using the phrase March Madness in its branding.

“This measure corrects the inequality that has existed between the men’s and women’s tournaments for a decade,” Daniel Donoghue, executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, said of the tournament expansion, and also provides fair opportunities for participation after the season for the men’s and women’s Division I divisions. Basketball Student Athletes”.

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More women’s basketball from AP: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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