NCAA modifies automatic qualifier policy for the 2021 tournament
The NCAA released the following statement regarding automatic qualifiers this season:
The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees have provided flexibility this season for conferences to possibly adjust their automatic qualifier policy for the 2021 Championship. Due to the challenges presented by the pandemic, conferences have until February 26 to submit their automatic qualifier form that details whether their AQ is based on the conference tournament or regular season champion. Conference championship format, field size and dates are under the auspices of the conferences.
Both committees have had considerable discussion around the topic of conference championships and the value of participation. Ultimately, the committees believe the authority on conference championships should reflect current policy, which leaves decision-making at the conference and institutional level. However, if a conference elects to hold a tournament and have that champion represent the league as its AQ, then the committees encourage full participation of all teams that qualify for a conference championship and are eligible for the NCAA tournament. The committees believe this expectation honors the game and the extraordinary efforts of so many student-athletes, coaches and staff during the season, and provides the fullest evaluation opportunity for NCAA Tournament selection, seeding and bracketing.