The NCAA championship games of men’s Division I and Division III will take place in the same location and on the same weekend in 2014 if NCAA committees sign off.
The Division III men’s hockey committee has approved the 2014 finale to be played at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on Friday, April 11 — the day between the Division I semifinals and championship game.
The move needs to be OKed by the Division III Championships Committee and the Division III Management Council, which next meets Oct. 15-16. The budgetary impact is expected to be one of the top questions from those groups.
Organizers with the Philadelphia bid have already signed off on adding the game to the 2014 schedule, and plans call for adding it to the bid specifications for future Frozen Fours.
It would be a big change for the D-III tournament, which, until 2008, had been almost exclusively played on campus sites. Lake Placid, N.Y., was the site of the semifinals and finals in four of the last five seasons and is scheduled to host again in 2013.
The semifinals in 2014 will move back to campus sites on Saturday, March 29. Quarterfinals are scheduled for Saturday, March 22 with the three first-round games Saturday, March 15.
Combining championships is far from unheard of in NCAA circles. Since 2003, the men’s lacrosse championships for all three divisions have taken place in the same city.
And in 2013, the Divisions II and III men’s basketball championships will be played in the same city as the Division I Final Four, Atlanta.
“With certain sports that the NCAA has done this with, it has been a win-win,” said Bruce Delventhal, athletic director at Plattsburgh and the chair of the Division III men’s hockey committee.
It also would be a big change for the Frozen Four, which in recent years has struggled to find a Friday night event to build around the presentation of college hockey’s individual awards.
From 2006 to 2010, a skills competition was held for selected men’s and women’s seniors who had completed their eligibility. In 2011, an open skate was held.
Last season in Tampa, Fla., the festivities moved outside for a pep rally.
The 2012 Division III hockey championship in Lake Placid drew announced crowds of 2,100 and 3,100 for the semifinals and 3,300 for the title game.
The Division I and Division III finals are usually three weeks apart, so their combination would alter the D-III side. The NCAA Division III Management Council’s playing and practice seasons subcommittee earlier announced that it would recommend that schools not be allowed to play games before Nov. 1, citing health and safety concerns.
Currently, Division III teams are allowed to start playing on Oct. 15, the same day that they can start practicing.
There are some concerns in the Division III community about the changes to the calendar to accommodate the championship game shift, Delventhal said.
“That doesn’t mean it’s still not a good idea and worth trying,” he said.