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June 18, 2013

Changing the rules in the NCAA?

NORMAN — The WNBA’s first president feels that women’s college basketball needs to make changes if the sport is to grow.

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.

“A lot of the ideas came from the membership,” Ackerman said. “When I went into this a piece of the process involved interviewing those who were associated with the sport. My questions were open ended. What do you like? What would you change if you could? My sense was that ideas they’ve been kicking around for a long time. Some may not be new I just tried to corral them.”

The women’s basketball committee will meet next week in Nashville, Tenn., site of the 2014 Final Four, to discuss Ackerman’s paper. They will be the ones to determine which, if any, of the recommendations they will implement.

While changing the dates of the Final Four may be more difficult for 2014, some of the other suggestions could be done for next year without too much trouble. No bids have been awarded yet for the opening two rounds and sites haven’t been announced for the regionals.

“I think the best way to answer that is to say that in 2014 there are number of things that are doable,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne Sanders said. “Changing dates to a Friday-Sunday format, top 16 teams hosting, those require some logistical challenges that we need to address.”

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