NCAA Tournament Expansion Tops on Committee Agenda
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
There weren't many major issues on the agenda at this year's NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Committee meeting in Indianapolis.
Except for the usual suspect — bracket expansion.
The committee thought it was close last year to increasing the number of teams in the Division I men's tournament to 16, a long-sought after goal. But, after being shot down yet again, the wheels were put in motion to get it done for next year.
The issues remain the same: whether the NCAA is willing to expand a men's tournament bracket before ensuring that opportunities in women's sports are more equitable.
The NCAA recently created a special subcommittee of the Championships Cabinet that will review bracket expansion for all sports. While it might concern hockey that the subcommittee will be looking into all sports, the committee was encouraged by the attendance of Judy Sweet, the NCAA's vice president of championships, at its recent meeting.
"It was nice of Judy Sweet to attend that meeting," said McDonald. "We presented our arguments, and told her that we support women's hockey completely."
McDonald said the three main sports in line for expansion are hockey, men's lacrosse and women's softball.
"There were a number of women's sports put ahead of us, and they have all been approved," said McDonald.
"In the process of lobbying and educating [the NCAA], we need to make sure hockey contnues to be on the priority list."
McDonald said the formation of the committee is a bit worrisome, because it adds more debate to an issue he hoped was more cut-and-dried. But, he said, hockey remains in a strong position.
"It's kind of like, this is a timeout. We're ahead and we have to make sure not to give up two goals in the last minute," he said.
There were some other issues on the committee's agenda. For one, they decided against making any changes to the NCAA tournament selection criteria at this time. They were also discussions about issues such as television, Frozen Four dates and preliminary discussions on whether the CHA will receive an automatic bid to the tournament.
The committee will also welcome a new member, Bowling Green coach Buddy Powers, who replaces outgoing chair Bill Wilkinson. The NCAA has approved the addition of two more committee members, effective Sept. 1. They have not yet been named.