Every now and then the NCAA makes a decision that makes you shake your head. Such was the case on Sunday night when the 64 teams for the men’s and women’s Division II basketball field were unveiled.
It wasn’t a matter of who got in and who didn’t, it was what should have been a far easier decision. It was in deciding who to award hosting rights for the West Region events.
Western Washington University was award hosting rights for both which will go on simultaneously. It’s not that it is unprecedented. But Bellingham, 90 miles from Seattle, is too small an area to be able to accommodate 14 visiting teams.
There aren’t enough hotel rooms to accommodate the visiting teams, much less the parents of players and fans who want to attend. The other seven men’s teams are being housed in Everette, about a 70-mile drive from the site. How’s that for home-court advantage for the Vikings?
Air fares are outrageous.
And talk about a scheduling nightmare.Twice the number of games in one venue. Oh, and don’t forgot those religious schools that want to inconvenience everyone else by not playing on Sundays.
Instead of running a regional over the course of three or four days. Now it’s Thursday through Tuesday. Men’s teams play the quarterfinals on Friday then don’t play again until Monday. Just brilliant!
There were other options, including having two four-team sub-regions, then have the highest seed host the championship game.
What should have done . . . Western Washington pick one, then assign the other regional to another school. Period, end of discussion.
Both championship games on Tuesday but the men’s not starting until 8:30 p.m. What are they trying to do, avoid a rush-hour traffic jam in the thriving metropolis. How many papers will get that score in the paper? Answer - none.
The worst part of the debacle is that the NCAA had no contingency plan in place. Western had been ranked No. 1 in the region in both men and women for a month, yet when the men’s field was announced Sunday night, they didn’t give a site until well over an hour later.
The NCAA couldn’t see this coming? Really? Everyone else did?
Everyone but the folks at Western Washington are getting jobbed here. It’s shame for the players and fans of other schools to have to deal with this.
So strike another blow for the student-athlete experience the NCAA is all about. Time and time again it proves that is not the case.