The women’s NCAA tournament is expanding from 64 to 68 teams this season.
The NCAA made the announcement Wednesday.
This brings participation opportunities for the women’s tournament in line with the men’s event. A comprehensive external gender equity review of NCAA championships was conducted by Kaplan Hecker & Fink after video from the 2021 tournament inside of the bubble showed obvious disparities between the treatment of the 2021 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.
National attention was turned towards this issue as a result of a TikTok video from Oregon player Sedona Prince who filmed the differences between the men’s and women’s weight rooms.
Prince also detailed the sub-par food.
The 68 teams participating in the 2022 women’s championship will be announced on Sunday, March 13, as part of the ESPN selection show.
In the 2022 championship, only the four opening-round games will be conducted on the campuses of teams seeded in the top 16. Sites will be selected based on bracketing principles and procedures. All sites bidding to host first and second-round games must agree to host the opening-round game as well. Beginning with the 2023 championship, the first four games will be conducted at a to-be-determined neutral site.
“This was another important step in providing additional championship participation opportunities for women’s basketball student-athletes,” chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Duke Nina King said. “The committee was in support of implementing this as soon as possible and were pleased that the expanded championship field will be in play immediately for the upcoming championship and beyond.”
The last four at-large teams and teams seeded 65 through 68 will compete in opening-round games prior to the start of the first and second rounds of the championship.
The championship will culminate at the 2022 Women’s Final Four to be played April 1 and April 3 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
An ESPN channel will broadcast all games of the 2022 championship for the 19th year in a row.