Founding WNBA president and former USA Basketball president Val Ackerman is the latest to pass along recommendations to further the growth of women’s college basketball.
Ackerman’s Division I Women’s Basketball White Paper, a 52-page PDF file that was delivered to NCAA Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances Mark Lewis and NCAA Vice President of Women’s Basketball Championship Anucha Browne, was based on “historical data; interviews I conducted with people knowledgeable about women’s college basketball, women’s basketball or basketball in general; observations I made in connection with games and related events I either attended or watched on television; information culled from press reports; feedback I received during various meetings I attended with NCAA staff and/or other stakeholders; and my prior experiences with women’s basketball (including the WNBA, USA Basketball and FIBA) and other women’s sports.’’
Among the changes proposed by Ackerman are shrinking the NCAA tournament field from 64 teams to 48-52, moving the Final Four to a Friday/Sunday format as opposed to the current Sunday/Tuesday; a two-site, super regional format where the regional semifinals and finals will be played; having the Top 16 seeds host the first two rounds; lowering the number of scholarships from 15 to 13; and the creation of an award to be presented to the player with the highest field goal percentage nationally.
“I think that the discussion is good because I think that something needs to be done,’’ UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey said. “You look at what other sports have done that have had success in their championships and in their growth – volleyball, softball – and maybe we can adopt some of theirs that makes sense for us. I don’t think we have to do everything the men do. I don’t think we have to do everything volleyball does, or softball. But I think we can take the best of all of it that fits what women’s basketball is trying to do. And that’s grow the sport.’’