With Auriemma On Hand, Progress Made At White Paper Summit

The Division I Women’s Basketball White Paper, a 52-page PDF file created by former WNBA president/USA Basketball president and current Big East commissioner Val Ackerman that was delivered to NCAA Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances Mark Lewis and NCAA Vice President of the Women’s Basketball Championship Anucha Browne in June, created much discussion about ways to improve the sport. The discussion continued in earnest today during the White Paper Summit at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was among a 35-person group consisting of high-profile coaches, conference representatives, school athletics administrators, an on-court official (Dee Kantner), television executives and NCAA committee members. Hartford coach Jennifer Rizzotti, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, former Texas coach Jody Conradt, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, Louisville coach Jeff Walz, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, DePaul coach Doug Bruno and Florida State coach Sue Semrau also participated in the talks.

Brown said during a teleconference that significant progress was made.

“I think today was a critical day for women’s basketball,’’ Brown said. “I think everybody in the room today willing to come to Indianapolis and really get after some of the issues that are plaguing our sport in an effort to gain consensus. And we did that. So coming out of today’s session I’m actually extremely happy and encouraged with the progress that we’ve made. We were able to address many of the key points that were the focus of the recommendations in Val’s White Paper relative to the championship schedule, skill development, parity in our game and the government structure of women’s basketball.

“Coming into this it was important for me to make sure that there was accountability in the room. So that walking out of this we could say `by overwhelming majority’ or `by a tremendous show of support’ we were able to move forward the following recommendations. And we achieved that …’’

Here are some of the key points, which likely will not be implemented until at least the 2014-15 season, that Brown said received “tremendous support’’ from the group …

It was agreed “with tremendous support and a vote was taken’’ to shift the days of the Final Four from a Sunday-Tuesday format to a Friday-Sunday format moving forward.’’ The Final Four will be held in Tampa in 2015 and in Indianapolis in 2016.

It was agreed that moving the tournament back one weekend following the men’s Final Four would be beneficial.

It was agreed upon that the Top 16 seeds would host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament

Super Regionals at two host sites, consisting of eight teams per site, will be held instead of four regional sites with four teams each

The Super Regionals and the Final Four would be hosted at the same locations for multiple years on a rotating basis. For example, if there are three sites then two of them would host the Super Regionals and the other would host the Final Four

There was overwhelming support for conducting the Division I, II and III championships at one location during same weekend in 2016, which Brown pointed out is an Olympic year as well as the 35th anniversary of women’s basketball and could be sold as a celebration of the sport. This mega-event is being eyed as a one-time possibility right now, but it will be considered to be a more regular occurrence in the future.

Ensuring that officials receive the necessary development and training that they need for the overall benefit of the game. One officiating clinic has already been held. Three more are upcoming.

Professional development of the coaches is viewed as “paramount to the ongoing growth and the health of the game, making sure that head coaches and assistant coaches receive a significant amount of professional development.’’ The feeling is that moving forward a certification model needs to be in place for coaches that is focused on all of the skills they need to continue to move the game forward and to be successful in their own careers.
“Coaches have to be better,’’ Auriemma said in a statement. “We have to teach the game better. We have a lot of coaches in this country, but we don’t have a lot of teachers. The players we’re getting need a lot of teaching. We have to work hard to make sure we can do that.’’

The consensus is to remain at 15 scholarships per team, not drop to 13 in an effort to enhance parity

Both freedom of movement and a reduction of the physicality in the game were discussed, going back to a free-flowing game with greater flow featuring one touch to the dribbler, protecting the shooter, protecting the post player and less contact on the cutter through the lane

The possibility of moving from two halves to four quarters, implementing a 24-second shot clock and widening the lane were also discussed

“The purpose of today’s meeting was to provide our women’s basketball committee with some direction relative to the tournament,’’ Brown said. “The committee will now take these recommendations into their October meetings and finalize decisions on the tournament.’’