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NCAA Open to Shifting Future Tournament Formats

Brock Fritz

Future NCAA tournaments likely will never have the same format as the 2021 event that was heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt thinks the NCAA’s leaders could be open to taking some aspects of the recently completed tournament into the future. According to The Associated Press, Gavitt said that the 2021 tournament, which was held exclusively in Indiana and primarily in Indianapolis, could lead to moving more of future tournaments to a single site.

“If it’s the desire of the committee and the membership to consider something along these lines for the future, I think we would give it significant consideration,” Gavitt said Tuesday. “I would hesitate to say, though, I don’t think a 68-team single site, short of another pandemic, would be something we would have great interest in. However, once you get down to a fewer amount of teams, say the Sweet 16 and on, having teams in the same location may provide some opportunities the membership, coaches and all would want to consider for the future.”

The NCAA tournament is traditionally held all over the United States, with the Final Four being held in one location. That will remain the format in the near future, as the next four Final Fours are scheduled to be held in Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Indianapolis.

Therefore, as long as the pandemic fades away and nothing else forces the NCAA’s hand, the 2022 tournament will be held in the traditional format that was last contested in 2019. After canceling the 2020 tournament due to COVID-19, the NCAA hosted 173,592 fans at the 2021 men’s tournament that concluded despite several setbacks.

“Knowing what we were able to pull off here in such a short amount of time, I think gives me and the NCAA staff incredible confidence that we have minimally an incredible backup plan if we’re presented with a challenge and have to shift,” Gavitt said. “I think it will only lead to more opportunities for NCAA championships and other NCAA activities and events that we know will work so well in this convention center and surrounding facilities.”

With teams playing across six venues and a number of protocols limiting contact, there were 15 positive tests among the 28,311 conducted during the men’s tournament, which ended with Baylor’s win over Gonzaga on Monday. VCU was the lone team to be severely impacted, as positive tests forced the Rams to forfeit their opening-round game against Oregon. Six referees were also sent home prior to the start of the tournament after one tested positive following a dinner together. Alabama student Luke Ratliff died due to COVID-19 complications days after attending a game.

Related content: NCAA Committee Calls Off VCU Game Due to Positive Tests

There were also some difficulties with the setup, as men’s players protested their rights as athletes while the women’s tournament began with a nearly nonexistent workout area.

Related content: NCAA to Conduct External Review Following Backlash

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