NCAA reduces bracket/field sizes for D-II 2021 winter and spring championships

National office of the NCAA.
National office of the NCAA.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 3:37 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Division-II Administrative Committee approved changes that would reduce the number of teams allowed into winter and spring sports championship tournaments.

A release issued by the NCAA said the reductions were made “to alleviate expected budget shortfalls, specifically as the Division II budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year faces challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The majority of sports saw a 25 percent reduction in the bracket/field size.

The new restrictions indicates that both men’s and women’s basketball will see a 25 percent reduction in the bracket size. Previously, 64 teams would be allowed into the tournament. Now, only 48 teams will be allowed into the March Madness tournament.

12 of the 18 sports also saw reductions of 25 percent.

Below is a complete list of reductions to both Winter and Spring sports.

Winter SportSponsorshipFull Bracket/Field SizeNew Bracket/Field size (% reduction)
Men’s Basketball3046448 (25%)
Women’s Basketball3056448 (25%)
Men’s Indoor Track and Field176270202 (25%)
Women’s Indoor Track and Field201270202 (25%)
Men’s Swimming and Diving76175146 (17%)
Women’s Swimming and Diving102205146 (29%)
Wrestling63180132 (27%)
Spring SportSponsorshipFull Bracket/Field SizeNew Bracket/Field size (% reduction)
Baseball2525642 (25%)
Men’s Golf22410884 (22%)
Women’s Golf2009672 (25%)
Men’s Lacrosse721210 (17%)
Women’s Lacrosse1111612 (25%)
Women’s Rowing166 teams per event (2 events)4 teams per event (2 events) (34%)
Softball2906448 (25%)
Men’s Tennis1484836 (25%)
Women’s Tennis2074836 (25%)
Men’s Outdoor Track and Field225377283 (25%)
Women’s Outdoor Track and Field256377283 (25%)

The statement released by the NCAA says they predict higher costs to host championships due to testing and other safety protocols. Limited fan attendance also hinders projected revenue. Even with money saved from the cancellation of D-II 2020 fall championships, the NCAA says holding 2021 winter and spring championships at full bracket and field sizes was expected to exceed the D-II championship budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The NCAA says the significant revenue losses forced them to dip heavily into their savings reserves. Nearly $5 million of reserves were used to cover expenses for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“While reducing any number of championship opportunities is an undesirable outcome, Division II’s Championships Committee and its sport committees worked incredibly hard to preserve as many of those opportunities as possible for the winter and spring athletes who did not receive them last season,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor at South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “These reductions are also one-year changes, made during a pandemic in order to secure the long-term future of the division. Division II will remain flexible and make every effort to conduct championships at full capacity moving forward.”

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