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Effects of new strategic plan for women’s basketball will start to be felt this season

NCAA Photos archive

When NCAA women’s basketball released its new five-year strategic planin April for all three divisions, the plan aimed to unify and grow its community, empower student-athletes to reach their full potential, celebrate and elevate the game, and create an inspiring experience for all involved.

Over time, the changes will include expanded digital media coverage, technological enhancements to the game, advanced evaluations for postseason selections, and additional exposure and promotion through new media opportunities.

But even this season, the NCAA membership and fans will notice significant changes. Here’s a look at three areas where the impact will be felt first:

Inaugural digital road trip:This year, women’s basketball will see increased exposure in a variety of media and online platforms when the NCAA digital team sets out on a two-week road trip to highlight programs and players around the country. The trip is an expansion of the Women’s Basketball Media Day platform, which last season brought players and coaches to the ESPN studios for interviews and photo shoots. This year, the NCAA digital team will travel to campuses to capture content to elevate each program during the preseason and regular season.

The team will create features with student-athletes and coaches, videos capturing student-athlete personalities, and pieces that showcase what makes each school and program special. Content will be promoted on the @NCAAWBB social media account and featured on ncaa.com and ESPN platforms.  

National team competition:This season, a handful of schools will play games against the U.S. women’s national team, thanks to a new waiver allowing programs to compete against now-professional athletes who once were some of the biggest names in the college game.

The core U.S. team participating in the college tour includes WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Sylvia Fowles, Elena Delle Donne, Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray, A’ja Wilson and Skylar Diggins-Smith. The tour is intended to help the U.S. women’s national team build chemistry for the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo while showcasing the players’ connections to the college game and the high level of play in the women’s game overall.

Exploring innovations:In its effort to improve the quality of competition, women’s basketball will explore rules changes and how it can use technology to enhance the game.

This could mean implementing experimental rules during the Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament or bringing live stats and video to the bench and introducing technology in the game that provides real-time analytics to coaches from the court. 

Women’s basketball also will look to implement the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET, possibly as early as the 2020-21 season. In use by the Division I men’s selection committee since last year, as a replacement to the Ratings Percentage Index, the NET will provide women’s selection committee members with an advanced evaluation of teams being considered for postseason competition.