NCAA Regional Changes Coming Soon?

Texas A&M University athletic director Bill Byrne writes a weekly newsletter to fans addressing the state of the athletic program, fan questions and concerns, and NCAA issues. In this week’s newsletter Byrne addressed a memo received from the NCAA regarding concerns of travel costs to various NCAA Championships. College baseball could be one of the main sports greatly impacted by any potential rule changes to address this concern. Byrne had the following to say on the subject:

The NCAA has conducted a comprehensive Travel Cost/Capacity study and made several recommendations to the legislative bodies of the NCAA membership.
Among the recommendations the NCAA staff has offered are:
Announcement selection timing and departure from campus for the team, adjusting practice sessions to accommodate travel, avoiding cities with high travel costs, and further adjusting brackets to encourage less flying to championships.

They are also considering adjusting bracketing to place regional sites more geographically regardless of seeding, and in some sports eliminating the rule which attempted to avoid conference match-ups early in the bracket.

This could potentially have a huge impact on the NCAA baseball tournament championship as seeding and conference affiliation would take a back seat to geography in regional selection. What this could potentially mean is regional matchups including two teams from the same conference as long as they don’t face each other in the first game.

There are clearly positives and negatives to this type of setup. The positives would be a likely substantial reduction in travel costs across the board. Another plus would be increased regional attendance as there would obviously be more rivalry matchups.

The downside would be very lopsided regionals since geography would take precedent over seeding. The most deserving schools would not be selected to host regionals. Instead, regional sites would be awarded based on location.

In my opinion, taking the seeding out of the regional selection process would be a huge mistake. I like the existing system where regional sites are awarded based on performance throughout the season. It rewards teams for playing tough competition and winning. The NCAA currently takes into account geography when choosing regional destinations for each team. With that said, I do like the idea of potentially having two teams from the same conference in a regional. I think this would be an option worth trying for the committee. It would be a win/win situation for the host sites and the NCAA. The NCAA would achieve one of its concerns of cutting down travel costs and the host sites would undoubtedly receive attendance boosts from conference rivalries.

To read the rest of Bill Byrne’s comments click here (discussion on bottom of page).