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Division II committee recommends regionalization working group

Group would explore potential modifications to championship bracketing and seeding

As the next step in an ongoing review of the Division II regionalization model for championships, the Division II Championships Committee has recommended the division establish a working group to examine the current model and identify potential bracketing improvements for team-sport championships.

The committee made the decision at its Sept. 13 meeting in Indianapolis.

The division’s regionalization model was implemented with the intent of ensuring schools in every region of the country have access to Division II championships. Due to its substantial influence on the overall championship experience, regionalization has been a key topic of discussion for the Championships Committee over the past year. Division II leaders named a review of the regionalization model and policies as a top priority for the 2016-17 academic year.

According to a 2013 Division II membership census, regionalization is still widely considered the best model for the division, particularly for regular season scheduling. But changes to the landscape in recent years – from schools joining or leaving the division, switching conferences or otherwise altering regional alignments – have led to a larger discussion regarding whether the current model is still meeting its goals in the postseason.

One of the biggest concerns is the frequency at which schools from the same conference meet each other in a preliminary round of a team-sport championship tournament. Data from the last five years of Division II championships reveal in-conference matchups in the first round occur about 25 percent of the time. The Championships Committee is looking to decrease that number – and is hoping a team of subject matter experts can help.

The committee recommended the Division II Management and Presidents Councils approve the formation of a working group to focus specifically on developing potential modifications to championship bracketing and seeding. “We could beat this thing up forever,” said Championships Committee chair Jim Johnson, the athletics director at Pittsburg State University. “It’s our job to gather all this information and get a path defined.”

While details related to the makeup of the working group have yet to be determined, the committee anticipates the working group will collaborate with other groups in the membership and bring forth recommendations to the next Championships Committee. Any final proposals would be presented to the Management and Presidents Councils in 2017.

The Management and Presidents Councils will determine whether to move forward with creating a working group at their meetings next month.

Other actions

Also at its meeting, the Championships Committee:

  • Recommended implementing automatic qualification in women’s golf beginning in September 2017 for the 2018 Division II Women’s Golf Championships.
  • Approved a new date formula for the men’s golf regionals that will eliminate an overlap between the men’s and women’s golf regionals. The men’s regionals, beginning Sept. 1, 2018, will be Thursday-Saturday two weeks before the championship finals.
  • Approved several revisions to the championship selection model in men’s and women’s swimming and diving.