Even after a slight uptick in TV ratings for both the entire women's NCAA tournament and the surprising Texas A&M-Notre Dame title game last season, the NCAA is still eager to find a way to provide the sport more exposure.
As a result, the Division I women's basketball committee announced Thursday it will study whether pushing back the women's NCAA tournament a week would help achieve that goal by reducing overlap with the men's tournament.
"As a committee, we want to do what is best for women's basketball," said committee chair MarilynMcNeil, vice president and director of athletics at Monmouth. "If this is the best way of enhancing the championship, the sooner a decision is made, the sooner an implementation date can be established."
It's admirable that the NCAA is investigating ways to improve the women's game, but this particular idea seems more shortsighted than savvy.
Whereas media coverage during Final Four weekend is devoted entirely to college hoops, the following weekend is dominated by the Master's. Would the women's game really benefit by moving its showcase to a time when America is done with college basketball and has moved on to golf?
If the NCAA's thought process is that newspapers and websites might send their national college basketball reporters to both Final Fours if they were in separate weeks, it would be wise not to forget the rule change it made earlier this year. The accelerated deadline for prospects to decide whether they're turning pro or not will dominate the college hoops news cycle the week after the Final Four.
Ultimately, attendance and TV ratings for the women's Final Four is less a matter of when it's held than how the sport is received. If fans find the players and the games compelling, they'll likely watch. If not, the weekend it takes place won't make a difference.
- NCAA tournament