The Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees will not add seats, the Division I Council decided Wednesday in Indianapolis, but the group introduced legislation into the 2016-17 cycle that would spread the members of both committees across five regions instead of four.
After extensive study, which involved collecting feedback from all Division I conferences on several different models for committee membership, both the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee and Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee recommended the Council divide the country into five regions and require representation from each. The Council agreed to sponsor legislation to accomplish that goal. The legislation will be considered for the next several months with final votes – one for the men’s committee and one for the women’s – cast in April 2017.
The Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees manage the division’s basketball championship tournaments, including the selection, seeding and bracketing of the field. In recent years, more than a third of Division I schools changed conferences. Leagues grew to have as many as 15 members and conference footprints spread across different regions. These dramatic changes prompted the oversight committees to consider whether the selection committees represented the membership appropriately.
“I think that since conference realignment, it makes more sense to more equitably distribute the regions across the country,” said Jean Lenti Ponsetto, athletics director at DePaul University and chair of the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee. “I think it will be easy for the fans to understand.”
Currently, there are four regions (East, South, Midwest and West) represented on the committee with no more than three members from one region. The new model would add a Southeast Region, which essentially splits a larger proposed South Region in half:
East Region – America East, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast, Colonial, Metro Atlantic and Northeast conferences with the Ivy and Patriot leagues.
Midwest Region – Big East, Big Ten, Mid-American and Missouri Valley conferences with the Horizon and Summit leagues.
South Region – Big 12, Ohio Valley, Southland, Southwestern Athletic and Sun Belt conferences with Conference USA.
Southeast Region – American Athletic, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Mid-Eastern, Southeastern and Southern conferences.
West Region – Big Sky, Big West, Mountain West, Pac-12, West Coast and Western Athletic conferences.
The representation of subdivisions will not change. Six of the members will represent the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, and the remaining four members will represent conferences from the Football Championship Subdivision or conferences without football. After examining the matter fully, men’s oversight committee members came to the conclusion that the current committee size – 10 members – remains appropriate.
“With the landscape changing in a general sense in the membership, we wanted to get the temperature if 10 was the right number or if any other changes needed to be made,” said Dan Guerrero, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee and director of athletics at the University of California, Los Angeles. “In the end, it was very clear that 10 was the number that works best.”