It also argued that there was “no realistic way to obtain the same level of corporate sponsorship and promotional synergies at a separate women’s championship in a separate city,” given the N.C.A.A.’s assorted contractual arrangements, and said that the “overwhelming majority” of women’s players it surveyed about the possibility of a blended site supported the concept. The investigators urged that the N.C.A.A. combine the events by next year.
That prospect seemed far-fetched to some executives, particularly because the N.C.A.A. had already chosen host cities for both tournaments’ Final Fours through 2026. The decision in February, which N.C.A.A. officials said was unanimous, was for the events to remain separate through the next cycle of bidding to host the tournaments — making changes unlikely until at least 2032, which coincides with when the current men’s television rights contract will expire.
Executives said, though, that they were considering other possible adjustments, like holding the competitions on separate weekends, that could draw a larger spotlight onto women’s basketball. For now, though, N.C.A.A. leaders said they had been skeptical of upending decades of tradition.
“It was important at this time for the committee to see the results of the enhancements and the other investments that were being done in the championship and to really pay homage to or continue to respect what has been built around the women’s Final Four already with the fan base and otherwise,” Lynn Holzman, the N.C.A.A.’s vice president for women’s basketball, said Wednesday.
The women’s Final Four, she noted, has routinely drawn capacity crowds in the cities where it has been played in recent years, and N.C.A.A. officials are openly predicting similar fervor in Minneapolis for the games on Friday and Sunday.
The tournament’s schedule, Auriemma suggested on Tuesday, is ripe for change — a sentiment others have shared. That may prove to be an area where the N.C.A.A. will bend.
“Two teams played last night, Monday night, to go to the Final Four, and now we play Friday, and we fly out today,” he said on Tuesday. “The guys finished Sunday, and they get Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then they play Saturday. Why don’t you address things that actually help kids get ready to play their best basketball at the most important time of the year?”