Could Final Four be moved?
NCAA wants women's hoops out of men's shadow
Posted: Tuesday April 3, 2007 8:36PM; Updated: Tuesday April 3, 2007 8:36PM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- NCAA president Myles Brand wants women's basketball's biggest event to have its own spotlight.
Now, the NCAA is considering moving the women's Final Four a week later so that it's not overshadowed by the men's championship.
"To the extent that they're in a shadow, it makes sense to me to give them full sunlight," Brand said. "They deserve it. They're that good. The games are that good."
He discussed the state of the women's game Tuesday before Tennessee and Rutgers played for the national championship.
"It's gotten a lot better in terms of parity, skill of players and fan interest over the years," he said. "I'm personally very pleased. I see this as a growth sport for the NCAA."
To grow the spot even more, the entire women's tournament or the Final Four could be pushed back a week, Brand said.
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is all for it.
"We need our own show," said Stringer, back in the championship game for the first time in 25 years. "The administrative side of everything, NCAA, the universities, have got much more of a responsibility to promote this sport. ... We need to make a much bigger step because whatever we're doing is not enough."
Still, there are a number of factors the NCAA must consider. For example, the weekend after the men's Final Four already is crowded with the Masters and the Frozen Four.
"We're studying it," Brand said. "We're not going to take forever to decide. But we're not quite there yet.
For the past two seasons, the women's NCAA tournament selection was done Monday, a day after the men. That won't change, even though ratings for this year's selection show were down slightly, according to ESPN.
"It will take us a few years to get the maximum amount of interest in the Monday night selection," Brand said.
The NCAA also acknowledged it must improve marketing for the regionals, where attendance was down from last season. Attendance did increase by 25,000 for the first and second round games, said Sue Donohoe, the NCAA's vice president for Division I women's basketball.
Other topics Brand discussed:
-- The graduation rate for female student-athletes is 86 percent, compared to 70 percent for male student-athletes.
-- The NCAA is working to address the issue of discrimination against gay coaches and players. Last month, Penn State coach Rene Portland resigned, ending a 27-year tenure that included allegations she discriminated against lesbian players.
"What the NCAA can do is make sure all people are treated respectfully whatever their sexual orientation," Brand said.
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