Women’s bowling is closing in on a guaranteed path to its postseason, but one step remains.

During a conference call Feb. 10, the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet referred a decision on when to implement automatic qualification for the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship to the newly formed Competition Oversight Committee.

The proposal from the NCAA Bowling Committee would provide conference champions with an automatic spot in the NCAA championship beginning in 2018. The Competition Oversight Committee, part of the new Division I governance structure, will determine whether to approve that implementation date.

Committee members believe the automatic qualifier will encourage schools weighing the addition of new sports to consider bowling.

Currently, tournament participants are selected as at-large participants in the eight-team bracket. Four conferences (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Northeast Conference, Southwest Athletic Conference and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) account for 36 of the 63 schools that sponsor the sport.

There are 27 teams that do not have conference affiliation.

By rule, six active members must have conducted conference competition together for the preceding two years to be eligible for automatic qualification.

The bowling committee believes the 2018 time frame will allow schools not in a conference to strategically align themselves and allow for better planning when considering conference affiliation.

Committee members feel the automatic qualification will also provide the ability to monitor the number of conferences and develop a plan if the number of conferences exceeds 50 percent of the eight-team bracket.