NCAA Expands Beach Volleyball, Women's Hockey Brackets

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The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee on Wednesday approved expanding the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball and Women's Ice Hockey brackets.

The Beach Volleyball Committee will explore whether the expansion from eight to 16 teams occurs for the 2022 Beach Volleyball Championship or will be implemented in 2023.

The National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey Championship bracket will expand from eight to 11 teams. The Women's Ice Hockey Committee also will decide whether the new bracket format is implemented in 2022 or 2023.

Both committees are scheduled to meet next week.

Once the respective committees make final recommendations on formats, they will be shared with the Division I Competition Oversight Committee and the Division I Council for final approval.

Beach volleyball

Aspects of the beach volleyball bracket expansion that will be discussed include conference automatic-qualification, confirmation of at-large selection criteria, and the overall format of the tournament and related logistics.

Currently, the championship has an eight-team bracket, with three schools chosen from the eastern portion of the country and three schools from the West. The final two spots in the bracket are at-large selections.

Beach volleyball is sponsored by 86 NCAA athletics programs, and the expansion of the bracket would allow19% of those teams to compete for a national championship.

Prior to NCAA sports being halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division I Competition Oversight Committee supported expanding the beach volleyball bracket. The continued growth in the sport, which debuted as an NCAA championship in 2016, is prompting the need to modify the bracket.   

Women's ice hockey

Women's Ice Hockey Committee members will decide the best way to conduct the tournament with an 11-team field and all the logistics it entails.

By expanding the bracket, the National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey Championship will be in line with the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship in terms of access to the bracket.

Currently, 41 schools sponsor national collegiate women's ice hockey. With 11 teams in the bracket, 27% of the teams will have access to the championship bracket. Division I men's ice hockey is sponsored by 60 schools, with a 16-team field (27%) getting to play for a national championship.

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