Incorrectly Marked Court at March Madness Has Fans Crying Foul | Sports Destination Management

Incorrectly Marked Court at March Madness Has Fans Crying Foul

Apr 02, 2024 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

To err might be human but WOW, is it embarrassing when millions of people find out about that error. And that was exactly what happened recently when five NCAA women’s basketball tournament games were found to have been played on a court that had the three-point line marked incorrectly

According to the Washington Post, the games (which all played out at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon) had different-length three-point arcs on either side of the court.

Games played included four Sweet 16 matchups on Friday and Saturday, followed by another game between North Carolina State and Texas on Sunday (won by NC State).  

Coaches for the Wolfpack and Longhorns were alerted to the marking issue shortly before tip-off but ultimately decided to start on time rather than delay the game to fix the court.  

But the coaches weren’t the ones who originally noticed the error and neither were the players.

The Washington Post noted, “At the start of Sunday’s game, one NCAA official told another that a fan inside Moda Center first noticed the discrepancy. Enter Michael McGrath. The lawyer splits his time between Portland and Arizona. Up north for the weekend, he saw Sunday morning that he could attend an Elite Eight game for $7. Before the game started, McGrath, sitting in the 300 level, noticed the three-point lines were off.

He snapped pictures facing each bench and posted them on Reddit. When a man sitting in front of him waved to a person courtside, McGrath suggested the fan text that person to let them know about the arcs. McGrath said the person courtside was working the game in some capacity. Soon, officials started measuring the distance between the baselines and the top of each arc. The game started about 15 minutes late.”

Moda Center in Portland, OregonAfter that game concluded, crews went to work, measuring and remarking the courts.

"Overnight in Portland, the incorrect three-point line was painted over with a color that matches as closely as possible the wood grain of the floor, and the correct 3-point line was painted on in black," the NCAA said. "This change brings the court into full compliance with NCAA playing rules."

The NCAA blamed the problem on human error.

USA TODAY noted, “Under NCAA rules adopted in the 2021-22 season, the women's 3-point line was set at 22 feet,1¾ inches. The NCAA also shared 3-point shooting statistics for the five games played in Portland before the line was fixed, showing no obvious statistical trends when playing on the side with the inaccurate 3-point line.”

Coaches, however, had something else to say about it, and the Washington Post made sure to note it:

“Teams shot 33 percent from the correct line and 25.8 percent from the wrong one, according to stats provided by the NCAA. Nicki Collen, Baylor’s women’s basketball coach, wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Guess that’s why we shot it better in the 2nd half… correct 3 pt distance!! FYI with 8 teams at one site you get so little prep time on the main court and your focus is on game planning and simply getting shots up!” Baylor lost to USC, 74-70, on Saturday night.”

The flooring contractor, Connor, noted it had used a Portland-based subcontractor to do the marking of the court. (The NCAA said it will work with all suppliers and vendors to "establish additional quality control measures to ensure this does not happen in future tournaments.")

Others, however, said the problem traces back to NCAA’s historical lack of attention to detail when it came to women’s sports.

“The NCAA is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has a history of wildly mismanaging women’s athletics,” noted For the Win. “So, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the organization that just recently allowed the women’s NCAA tournament to use “March Madness” branding also messed up the court for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight…. It was just a wild scene as tape measures had to be broken out.”

The problem was corrected, though the floor showed signs of having been painted over, and the games resumed. But in the meantime, we’ll always have these memes.

About the Author