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D2 Championship panel approves regional contingency plan
by Gary Brown, The NCAA News

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=45209tp://

The Division II Championship Committee has approved a contingency plan for championships administration that gives sport committees the flexibility to introduce a "subregional" round in cases where it would be financially prudent and beneficial to the student-athlete experience to do so.

The new policy, approved during a February 6 conference call, is effective immediately for the remainder of the 2008-09 academic year, meaning that it could be applied during selections and bracketing for this year's men's and women's basketball championships.

The change provides for the men's and women's basketball committees, for example, to divide an eight-team regional into two four-team subregionals in cases where all teams selected for a particular regional would have to fly to the host site. The plan protects the right the No. 1 seed has earned to host the regional, but it uses geographic proximity to mitigate costs and reduce the travel burden on participating teams.

The contingency plan features a two-host site format in which the No. 1 seed and the No. 2 seed host four-team tournaments. The winner of each would then compete in the regional final. If both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds lose before reaching the regional championship game, the final would take place at the site of the highest remaining seed, taking into account the costs and the student-athlete experience.

"The contingency plan will be implemented if the governing sports committee determines that a cost savings, including travel and administrative costs, of at least $10,000 will occur and it does not result in an undue hardship to the participating schools," said Championships Committee Chair David Riggins, the athletics director at Mars Hill.

As an example, the Championships Committee reviewed two hypothetical situations based on current regional rankings in men's and women's basketball in which the contingency plan would save more than $340,000 in travel expenses.

The Championships Committee believes the contingency plan protects the championship experience for student-athletes and provides a more fiscally responsible model for championship travel. An additional benefit is that more teams have the opportunity to host if the plan is deployed.

Committee members finalized their decision during the February 6 conference call after broaching the concept at their in-person meeting three days earlier. The better-business-practice concept came up during a broader discussion of championship efficiencies prompted by a Presidents Council request to review whether championship policies and procedures align with the Division II strategic-positioning platform.

Riggins said the Championship Committee will evaluate the contingency plan after this year's championships to see whether it should be carried over to future years or if changes should be made.

"This is about being fiscally responsible without compromising the integrity of the championship or the student-athlete experience," he said. "The plan we approved allows sport committees to reduce the burden on participating teams and their institutions. We believe this will serve us well for this year, and then we can review it again to decide whether it is an effective solution going forward."
 
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