The Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet adopted a policy to specify that the NCAA will pay expenses for all play-in contests in championships and that all teams in the bracket will be considered participants in the championship, including those teams participating in the play-in games.
Previously, play-in games were not part of the championships bracket and participating schools were responsible for their own expenses.
“This decision makes sense on so many levels,” said cabinet chair Jane Miller, senior associate athletics director for programs at Virginia. “The cabinet believes it is important for teams participating in play-ins to have their expenses covered. This policy change will allow that to happen. Although play-ins are not technically part of the bracket, student-athletes participating in play-ins will have a championships experience that mirrors that of other participants. This should provide a better experience for the student-athletes and coaches involved.”
The cabinet, which met earlier this month in Indianapolis, made the new policy effective immediately and impacts play-in competitions for field hockey, men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s water polo and men’s volleyball.
The play-in match-ups for each sport will be determined following selections, consist of the lowest-ranked automatic qualification teams (regardless of conference RPI) based on the sports committee’s selection processes, and will be conducted prior to the first round of the championship.
It was noted that the funding for the play-in games will come from the current Division I championships budget, and the modification will not negatively impact the NCAA’s goal of providing equitable championships opportunities for men and women.
If a championship has more conferences eligible for automatic qualification than the championship field allows (50 percent for most championships), one or more play-ins in that sport will be necessary.
Cabinet members discussed the next steps in their efforts to enhance their oversight of Division I/National Collegiate championships.
The cabinet will break out into working groups and have thorough discussions in future meetings in the following areas:
• Bracket sizes, access
• Threshold for adding championships
• Expectations to maintain a championship
• Categories of championships (high sponsorship/revenue production)
• Principles developed that are reflective of membership commitment to a sport
Championship travel review and other related expenses
• Travel parameters
• Bracket principles affecting length of championships (per diem)
• Timing of selection shows in relation to initial competition in the championship
Strategic plans and future requests for championships
• Long range plans to be developed by sports and issues committees
• Parameters to evaluate sports and issues committee recommendations
• Principles developed to identify needs for increasing/decreasing enhancements
• Input of and communication to membership