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The Associated Press | February 14, 2014

Women's Final Four format changed

UConn Women's Basketball

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA approved moving the women's basketball Final Four to a Friday-Sunday format beginning in 2017.

The Final Four had that format from 1996-2002 before switching to the current Sunday-Tuesday model in 2003.

The NCAA also will move up the preliminary rounds by a day, with the first games of the tournament played on Friday.

The moves were made to help improve attendance, which has become stagnant over the past few years. Last season, the NCAA averaged 5,466 for all rounds -- 17th since the tournament began in 1982.

"The hope is that the change in day pattern will allow more fans to attend the games throughout the championship," said Carolayne Henry, committee chair and senior associate commissioner of the Mountain West Conference. "As a committee we continue to explore ways to try and improve the tournament format.  We felt this was an important next step."

The NCAA hasn't announced a site yet for the 2017 Final Four, but said last month that there were seven finalists for the 2017-2020 cycle -- Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Houston; Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans; Pittsburgh; and Tampa, Fla.

Committee members also decided to keep the selection show on the Monday after the men's selection show. That schedule allows women's basketball to retain its own day for announcing the tournament field.

"Selection Monday continues to be an opportunity to showcase our tournament," Henry said.

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