Women's March Madness expands to 68 teams
As part of an ongoing effort to make the men's and women's basketball more equitable, the Division I Women's Basketball Championship bracket has been expanded from 64 teams to 68, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
The expansion brings the women's March Madness tournament in line with the size of the men's field, which has featured 68 teams since the addition of the "First Four" play-in games in 2011.
"We look forward to the positive change this will have for the student experience at the championship, especially as it relates to equal team opportunities to compete in the tournament," said Division I Council chair Shane Lyons.
The divide between the organizational approach to men's and women's athletics was a hot-button topic during the 2021 national tournament when the women's teams were relegated to conditions well below the standard enjoyed by their contemporaries in men's basketball.
Notably, a viral video published by Oregon's Sedona Prince highlighted poor weight training facilities and food options at the women's tournament site in San Antonio. The post resulted in an apology and a promise for improvement from Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's senior vice president of basketball.
The NCAA commissioned Kaplan Hecker & Fink to conduct an external review of gender equity issues within the organization. The firm released the second and final phase of its review last month.
The 2022 women's tourney will be the first that is officially branded under the "March Madness" trademark, which had previously exclusively been applied in reference to the men's tournament.