NCAA to look into holding both Final Fours in same city

Sep 29, 2021, 8:00 PM | Updated: Sep 30, 2021, 9:43 am
FILE - Stanford players, top, and a Utah Valley player warm up before their college basketball game...

FILE - Stanford players, top, and a Utah Valley player warm up before their college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, in this Sunday, March 21, 2021, file photo. The NCAA women's basketball tournament will use March Madness in marketing and branding beginning this season. Using the phrase, which has been associated with the men's tournament for years, was one of the recommendations from an external review of gender equity issues of the tournaments that was released in August. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The NCAA is exploring holding a joint Final Four with the men and women’s basketball tournaments holding their semifinals and title games in the same city on the same weekend, though it would not happen until at least 2027 with sites already locked in through 2026.

Combining the tournaments was one of the recommendations stemming from an external review of gender equity issues of the tournaments. The report released in August was sparked by outrage at the disparities between amenities at the two tourneys, including weight rooms and other features.

The NCAA earlier this week said the women’s tournament can start using “March Madness” in marketing and branding beginning this season, addressing another sharp criticism raised this year.

A combined Final Four is likely to be more controversial and the idea does not have universal support. But the NCAA said Thursday it will look into the details.

“We are committed to continuing discussion about the concept of conducting both the Women’s and Men’s Final Fours in the same city in the next bid cycle for each of these premier NCAA Championships,” said Nina King, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “Finding ways to address the gender equity issues that have come to exist through the years between the Division I Women’s and Men’s Basketball Championships is a priority, and we are dedicated to making impactful changes.”

Tom Burnett, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, said the committee meetings have been productive.

“If both committees agree that the recommendation of having both Final Fours in the same city is the best option, we are committed to seeing that it will be executed with comprehensive planning,” he said.

Coaches are split on the idea. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association did a survey of its coaches last month on the recommendations in the report and only 55% were in favor of a combined Final Four. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the survey results, which included participation from 345 of 356 WBCA members.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said she supported exploring the idea if it is done correctly.

“If they have the hotels correctly with both number one seeds staying in the same place and the facilities right, I think it’s doable,” she said. “I don’t think you could say you’re going to do it and not work at it. You have to iron out the details.”

VanDerveer also said she has no issue if the women’s Final Four is played in a basketball arena in the city while the men’s game is played in a much larger dome.

“I think we should recognize that the sports are in two different places,” she said. “Do what’s best for growing women’s basketball. Women’s basketball is not where men’s basketball is because we started later and haven’t been promoted as heavily. We have catching up to do. You’re in an 18-20,000 seat arena we can fill it up. I don’t know we’re selling out the dome yet.”

Most of the other ideas suggested by the report had over 90% approval from the coaches in the WBCA survey.

Last season, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the entire women’s tournament was played at a neutral site in the San Antonio arena. The men’s tourney was played entirely in Indiana. The NCAA faced a backlash as players called out disparities on social media and later apologized before launching a review.

In normal years, the men’s tournament is played entirely at neutral sites across the country while the top 16 women’s seeds host the opening two rounds before shifting to neutral venues. This year’s women’s Final Four is in Minneapolis and the Final Fours from 2027-31 for both tournaments will be announced next fall.

The NCAA also announced Wednesday that the national office will start from scratch in determining budgeting expenses for the two tournament staffs instead of adjusting the budgets from the previous fiscal year. This move will help show where differences occur and potentially increase chances for equitable spending and cross-promotion.

WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said it was encouraging “to see real movement by the NCAA in addressing the gender equity concerns.”

“We look forward to many more such announcements in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.


More AP women’s basketball: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Relatives stand nearby as survivors of Saturday's soccer riots are treated at a hospital in Malang,...
Associated Press

Relatives mourn those crushed at Indonesia soccer match

JEMBER, Indonesia (AP) — Families and friends of some of the 125 people who died in a deadly crush after an Indonesia soccer match wailed in grief as the bodies of the victims were returned home Monday. Seventeen children were among the dead. The distraught family members were struggling to comprehend the sudden loss of […]
23 hours ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL foot...
Associated Press

Tom Brady gets Bucs offense going, defense struggles

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady looked more like himself, carrying Tampa Bay’s offense with his arm. Only problem for the Buccaneers was the defense couldn’t stop Patrick Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s offense. “Our red zone defense was poor. Our run defense was poor. Our pass defense was poor. Our third-down efficiency […]
23 hours ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of...
Associated Press

Mahomes throws for 3 TDs, Chiefs overwhelm Buccaneers 41-31

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had all the answers for solving Tampa Bay’s stingy defense, winning his latest matchup against Tom Brady in the stadium where the seven-time Super Bowl winner dealt him one of his most disappointing losses. Mahomes threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, including an electrifying jump pass to Clyde […]
23 hours ago
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter left, relieves starting pitcher Chris Bassitt center, in the t...
Associated Press

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump. That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title. “It’s a clubhouse full of guys who […]
23 hours ago
Relatives stand nearby as survivors of Saturday's soccer riots are treated at a hospital in Malang,...
Associated Press

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Gaining the right to host next year’s Under-20 World Cup was a major milestone in Indonesia’s soccer development, raising hopes that a successful tournament would turn around long-standing problems that have blighted the sport in this country of 277 million people. The death of at least 125 people at a […]
23 hours ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge reacts after striking out during the seventh inning of a baseball gam...
Associated Press

Yankees star Judge tries again for AL-record 62nd home run

A look at Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees as he approaches major home run milestones: Season HR Total: 61 Sunday’s Game: Struck out three times while going 0 for 3 with a walk in a 3-1 loss to Baltimore in the final home game of the season at Yankee Stadium. Trying to become […]
23 hours ago
NCAA to look into holding both Final Fours in same city