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DI Cabinet shifts dates of women’s basketball tournament

Panel hopes changes will increase attendance and enhance the championship experience for student-athletes

Beginning in 2015, the preliminary rounds of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will take place on a Friday through Monday schedule, the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet decided Tuesday.

Cabinet members, who met via conference call, also approved a similar schedule change for the Women’s Final Four, which will move to a Friday-Sunday pattern in 2017.

The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee previously recommended the changes based on feedback from fans, who expressed displeasure with having to attend games on week nights. Committee and cabinet members believe the changes will increase attendance, improving the championship experience for participating student-athletes.

Currently, the first two weeks of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship are played Saturdays through Tuesdays.

Under the new structure, the first games of the tournament will take place on a Friday, with winners of those games meeting each other on Sunday; the other first-round games will take place the Saturday of that weekend, with those winners meeting each other on Monday. The same schedule will be followed during the regional round the next weekend, with the remaining 16 teams battling for a berth in the Women’s Final Four.

Through 2016, the national semifinals of the Women’s Final Four will continue to be played on Sunday, followed by the championship game on Tuesday.

The shift in playing days is part of the committee’s overarching plan to enhance women’s basketball and embraces recommendations made by the Women’s Basketball White Paper, which was released in 2013.