Last month it was announced that the NCAA tournament would be held in the Indianapolis area in order to keep down the chances of a spread of the pandemic.
The NCAA has announced on February 6 that the women’s tournament will follow suit and also be held in a bubble environment in San Antonio.
The tournament will still include 64 teams and will run between March 21 and April 4. Among the five sites being used is the University of Texas 38 miles from the San Antonio area. The Alamodome will be used for games in every round of the tournament including the championship game.
NCAA vice president of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman spoke on the announcement saying, “we appreciate the historical significance of moving the entire championship to one region and want to acknowledge the work by the Women’s Basketball Committee and staff, our hosts, local organizers and ESPN that has allowed us to make plans for a successful 2021 championship”.
She added, “we’re fortunate to be working with San Antonio, which features one of the most experienced local organizing committees in the country, and our number one priority is to focus on creating and implementing safety controls in an environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and everyone else associated with the championship.”
The NCAA noted that they are still working on the seeding process and any contingencies in the wake of any team unable to participate due to Covid issues. The issue of whether or not fans will be allowed into the venues is also still being considered. The NCAA Is hoping to at least allow some family members of the team involved to attend the games.
Senior deputy athletic director and chief of staff at Duke and chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee Nina King spoke on the tournament saying, “like the 2020-21 season, we know the championship will have its challenges, but we feel we have the necessary structure and safeguards in place to ensure a quality student-athlete championship experience. We appreciate all the work by those in San Antonio and by the NCAA staff to get to this point. We feel certain that one geographic region allows us to focus on the potential benefits of conducting certain safety measures in a controlled environment with competition and practice venues, medical resources and lodging for teams and officials all within close proximity.”
The NCAA has limited the teams to a maximum of 34 people who will arrive in San Antonio on March 16 and 17. The NCAA will be working with local health officials to set up all medical protocols. Like the men, the participants in the tournament must test negative for seven consecutive days before they arrive in San Antonio.
Once in San Antonio, all members of the travel parties must undergo daily testing; as well as, upon arrival for the tournament. They will also be required to wear contact tracing devices at all times.