San Antonio to host the entire DI NCAA tournament, organizers hope to finalize one-site plans by the end of January

The entire 2021 Women’s DI NCAA Tournament will take place in one location next spring. San Antonio, previously announced as the site of the Final Four, will be ground zero for the tournament.

Last month, the NCAA men’s committee announced that its tournament moved to a one-site model in Indianapolis for the season.

With just three months until the scheduled start of the women’s tournament, organizers are now in preliminary talks with the city and the women’s tournament local hosts: Incarnate Word, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and San Antonio Sports.

“Conducting the championship in one geographic region allows for more planning and execution of safeguards that provide potential benefits for promoting the health and safety of student-athletes, the NCAA membership and all individuals involved in the championship,” said Nina King, senior deputy athletics director and chief of staff at Duke, chair of the committee. “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.

Previously, the predetermined regional sites for the tournament were Albany, Austin, Cincinnati, and Spokane.

So, what is known so far about the one-site women’s tournament? The committee held a videoconference with media members Monday morning to answer some questions. King and Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president for women’s basketball, participated in the call.

When will plans be finalized?

Holzman: “It really is necessary for us in the committee to be in a place to make decisions on those things by the end of January at the latest.”

When did the planning for a single site begin?

Holzman: “The Women’s Basketball committee had been working on exploring different contingency plans relative to the championship. They really started gathering back in the late summer and early fall, so this has been going on for quite some time.”

King: “As Lynn said we’ve, we’ve been in conversations for a while, not knowing what the future was going to hold with this pandemic. And we’ve also been in conversations with our counterparts on the men’s side. So, I think, you know, we’ve had great conversation and contingency planning to kind of mirror each other.”

Will the timeframe of the tournament be altered, possibly shortened?

King: “As of right now, we intend to hold the tournament in the championship window that it’s currently slated to be, late March through early April. There’s a lot of logistics still to talk about and work with our television partner and in figuring all of that out. But as of this moment, we are planning on the traditional window for the tournament.”

Will teams have to be vaccinated?

Holzman “We will continue to operate under the guidance of the NCAA COVID Medical Advisory Panel and also local, state and other health authorities. So, they’re the ones that will provide the counsel and direction to us on any health and safety matters, whether those are operational-oriented matters or anything, including relative to testing, and any other expectations.”

Did the committee get any guidance from pro leagues, such as the WNBA, on how to maintain a safe environment for the tournament?

The NCAA has reached out to several sports leagues to understand how they have conducted their seasons and championships.

Holzman: “We’re learning from our own membership, of course, those that were playing fall sports and those, as we are in this basketball season, now.”

“And as we look forward, you look at some of the modifications of how the NBA intends to conduct this upcoming this season. And some of those safety protocols and measures, that’s all information that we have at our fingertips and to help the committee as it makes decisions along with our COVID Medical Advisory Panel.”

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