December 14, 2020
NCAA plans to play 2021 women’s basketball tournament at single site
Already slated to host Final Four, San Antonio likely location
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The NCAA is eyeing a single-site format for the 2021 women’s basketball tournament and has begun preliminary discussions with the city of San Antonio and nearby areas, the organization announced Monday.
While the 2021 Final Four was already set to take place in San Antonio’s Alamodome on April 2 and 4, moving the entire tournament to a single site is in keeping with various “bubble” environments around sports — and, increasingly, around NCAA basketball itself — that aim to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“By making this difficult decision now, it allows for an earlier opportunity to work proactively with local public health officials within the host communities and ensures that the identified guidelines and protocols are considered for a more controlled environment,” said Nina King, the NCAA women’s basketball committee chair and Duke senior athletic director.
Maintaining a single site has benefits including limiting travel, maintaining a controlled environment in practice and competition spaces and having medical and lodging areas for teams and officials nearby.
NCAA Vice President for Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman said San Antonio was “the perfect region for us to explore” due to its existing planning committee for the original Final Four.
This news follows last month’s announcement that the men’s basketball tournament would be played entirely in Indianapolis, which was where the Final Four was meant to take place, but is also where the NCAA is headquartered.
“[I]t became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment,” the NCAA’s Nov. 16 release about the men’s tournament said. “The committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well-being of the event.”
The NCAA said the time frame for the tournament may be shorter with all 64 teams in one place, but still expects it to take place in late March and early April.