INDIANAPOLIS — It might not be long before the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament expands to 16 teams. The NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet gave preliminary approval for expansion of the hockey bracket from its current 12 teams to 16 teams.
The proposal still needs approval from the NCAA Management Council and Board of Directors, which may come later this year. The expansion would be the first the tournament has undergone since 1988, when it grew from eight to 12 teams.
Though the approval has been granted, it does not guarantee much beyond that preliminary approval. The men’s soccer tournament was given the same approval last year, but due to budget constraints, the expansion did not happen. The NCAA has stated that providing more opportunities for women is the NCAA’s main goal right now, and that is where much of the funds available in the budget for championships will be focused.
Ken Schott of the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette reports that all of the approvals granted total 2.7 million dollars, but there is only a little more than 1 million dollars available for approvals. He reports that first consideration would be given to the Division I Women’s Championship.
If the expansion is approved, the NCAA would utilize four four-team regional sites, as opposed to the current two six-team sites. The current format has been in place since 1992. Prior to that, the higher seed hosted the first two rounds, playing best 2-of-3 series over two weeks.
The 2001 regionals are scheduled to take place in Worcester, Mass., at the Worcester Centrum, and in Grand Rapids, Mich., at Van Andel Arena.