Combined Championships for NCAA Basketball Planned
27 Aug, 2019
The NCAA announced the national championships for Divisions I, II and III men’s and women’s basketball will be celebrated as combined championship events in Atlanta during the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four and in Dallas as part of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
It will be the second time for both the men’s and women’s events that the championships for all three divisions will be held in the same city. Men’s basketball previously hosted combined championships in Atlanta in 2013, while the women crowned three national champions in the same venue in Indianapolis in 2016.
The 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four will be played April 4 and 6 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, with the Division II and III championships decided April 5 at State Farm Arena. Games will be broadcast live on TBS (Division I), CBS (Division II) and CBS Sports Network (Division III), with scheduled times to be released later. Georgia Tech will serve as the host school for the 2020 Men’s Final Four.
The 2023 Women’s Final Four games will take place March 31 and April 2, with the Division II and III national championship games played April 1. All games will be at American Airlines Center in Dallas, which was the site of the 2017 Women’s Final Four. ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast the Women’s Final Four. CBS Sports Network is scheduled to broadcast the Division II national championship game, with coverage of the Division III game a possibility, as well. The Big 12 Conference will serve as host for the 2023 Women’s Final Four.
“Conducting all three basketball championships in one city on the same weekend provides student-athletes from each division a unique experience,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. “We’re thrilled that our membership approved of doing this again, and we’re confident that this is going to be another huge success, both in Atlanta in 2020 and in Dallas with the three women’s championships in 2023.
“What struck me when we last did this in Atlanta in 2013 were the looks on the faces of the Division II and III student-athletes when they were introduced during the Final Four in front of 70,000 people. You could tell how special it was for them, their families and the fans of those schools to get that type of recognition,” Gavitt said. “Atlanta is an ideal setting for this, with venues that are walkable from each other and from downtown hotels and ancillary events.”
For the combined women’s championships in 2023, Dallas will serve as the epicenter of a 50th year celebration of Title IX, which became law in June 1972.
“The women’s basketball community came together in a big way to support having the three championships in one venue in Indianapolis in 2016, and we heard from all three divisions that there is great anticipation of this taking place again in the near future,” said Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president of women’s basketball. “Dallas 2023 will include a celebration for the 50th anniversary of Title IX that will culminate with three women’s basketball teams being crowned national champions. This celebration of women’s basketball will be memorable for our student-athletes and community.”
In 2013, Division II and III men’s championship games were played Sunday, April 7, 2013, at Philips Arena, which is now State Farm Arena. The Division II and III men’s basketball championship games drew a combined 14,013 fans. For the Division II final, 7,763 fans watched as Drury defeated Metropolitan State University of Denver in the championship game. It was the largest crowd for a final since 1971. The Division III Men’s Basketball Championship game set an attendance record with 6,250 fans as Amherst defeated Mary Hardin-Baylor in the title game.
“The student-athletes that participated in the 2013 Division II national championship game in Atlanta raved about the experience, and it has been a goal of the NCAA to make this happen once again,” said Jon Mark Hall, chair of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Southern Indiana. “The 2019-20 student-athletes who advance to the championship game will now get the opportunity to soak in all the experiences at one of the greatest events in sports, the Final Four. Division II men’s basketball is so strong and has so many great student-athletes and coaches, and this gives our great game a chance to shine alongside Division I and Division III. If you are a fan of college basketball, you will need to be in Atlanta to see three national championship teams crowned.”
Enhancing the student-athlete experience of players from all three divisions continues to be the driving force in conducting the combined championships at one site.
“The NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Committee is excited to have this opportunity to hold our championship in Atlanta in conjunction with Divisions I and II. This is an amazing opportunity to showcase Division III men’s basketball on a national level alongside our Division I and II counterparts,” said Sam Atkinson, chair of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Committee and associate athletics director for communications at Gallaudet. “The student-athlete experience for the two teams that make it to Atlanta next year is going to be unparalleled. We look forward to being part of the Final Four weekend.”
In 2016 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, all three women’s divisions played their championship games under the same roof April 3-5, with each divisional champion celebrating undefeated seasons in the process. UConn (38-0) claimed the Division I crown with an 82-51 win over Syracuse. Lubbock Christian (35-0) defeated Alaska Anchorage 78-73 for the Division II title, while Thomas More (33-0) defeated Tufts 63-51 to emerge as the champion in Division III. Attendance for the Women’s Final Four was 29,741 fans, while 6,403 attended the Division II/III championships doubleheader April 4. The attendance was the highest ever recorded for the Division III championship, while the Division II title game attendance was the eighth highest for that championship.
“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from schools following the combined championships in 2016 in Indianapolis, and it’s something that we have been looking for the right time to re-create ever since, with Dallas in 2023 serving as a great host city for the celebration,” said Rhonda Lundin Bennett, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate athletics director at Nevada.
“Women’s basketball continues to provide opportunity and memorable experiences for its athletes and fans,” said Melanie Ford, chair of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Committee and assistant athletics director at Shepherd. “The combined divisional championship in 2023 will provide nothing less. What greater way to optimize these experiences than to bring together each division’s championship into one location?”
“An NCAA championship game is the pinnacle of a student-athlete’s career. Crowning three national champions at one site is an exceptional opportunity to celebrate all that is great about women’s basketball and women’s intercollegiate athletics,” said Karin Harvey, head women’s basketball coach at Montclair State and chair of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Committee. “Just as the combined championship did in 2016, the 2023 championship will offer a unique opportunity for our student-athletes, our schools and our division to shine on a national stage.”