By Charles Hallman
Among the items to be discussed at the NCAA Convention in January is a proposal to help grow women’s college basketball. The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee has been gathering information from conferences and others as to whether to move the Women’s Final Four a week after the men’s.
The women once played on Fridays and Sundays in virtually obscurity, as the men’s championship semifinals and finals that are played on Saturday and Monday routinely overshadow their female counterparts. And although the Women’s Final Four has been played on a Sunday-Tuesday format since 2003, it still doesn’t get maximum nonstop coverage as the men’s does.
Not only is moving the semis and finals being examined, but also how it would impact dates and locations of future conference tournaments and regular season games, as well as practice dates and recruiting, wrote Greg Johnson in an NCAA.org story.
“This is a complex issue,” said Division I Women’s Basketball Committee Chair Greg Christopher. The article also said that feedback has been received from student-athletes, coaches and fans.
ESPN, which exclusively telecasts the Women’s Final Four, also has been asked for feedback. I also hope the committee consults the WNBA, since the league conducts its college draft a couple of days after the championship game.
I agree that the women’s premier event needs more focus, but I don’t know if holding it a week later in April is the answer. Maybe the NCAA should look at starting the women’s basketball schedule a week or two earlier than the men’s, or doing away with post-season league tournaments. Or the organization should convince ESPN, which pays them big bucks to telecast women’s games, to do a better job highlighting women’s hoops in the same fashion as they go gaga over men’s basketball.
The committee will discuss the issue during the annual NCAA Convention in Indianapolis next month and is expected to release its recommendation sometime in the first quarter of 2012.
Men’s college basketball recruiting now becomes high-tech
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors last October approved a new men’s basketball recruiting model, which now is in place.
According to NCAA.org, starting in April 2012 coaches will be permitted to evaluate prospects on two weekends, including the Final Four but not over the Easter weekend.
Other changes that will come into effect later include allowing coaches to send unlimited phone calls and text messages to recruits after their sophomore year beginning June 15, 2012. Then beginning August 1, 2012, schools will be able to pay for recruits’ official on-campus visits and transportation beginning January 1 of their junior year. The July evaluation period now will be limited to three four-day periods beginning Wednesday at 5 pm and ending on Sunday at 5 pm.
Supporters of these changes believe that it will help college coaches better establish relationships with the recruits and their families. The new recruiting model provides a “fresh start” for men’s basketball coaches “to resume their rightful position as leaders, mentors and teachers to student-athletes and stewards,” said the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA) in their monthly newsletter. “The changes present a fantastic opportunity for transformation.”
In light of the present events surrounding Penn State and Syracuse including coaches, former coaches and top school officials regarding child sex abuse allegations, something fresh is definitely needed not only in college athletics.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]