NCAA moves women’s basketball tournament to San Antonio area amid pandemic
The NCAA on Friday made it official that the San Antonio area would serve as host for the entire 64-team women’s basketball tournament. The city was long considered the frontrunner with plans already in place to host the Final Four at the Alamodome.
This is a similar approach the organization has put in place for this year’s men’s tournament, which will be held entirely in Indianapolis and nearby venues to minimize travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be five sites for the first round.
First-round games on March 21-22 will take place in the city utilizing two courts at the Alamodome itself as well as the University of Texas San Antonio Convocation Center and Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s, a Division II school. Additional first-round games will be hosted by the University of Texas in Austin and Texas State in San Marcos.
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The tournament will be completed entirely at the San Antonio venues from the second round onward beginning March 23, and all games from the round of 16 through the April 4 final will take place at the Alamodome.
“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,” said Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president of women’s basketball.
“We’re fortunate to be working with San Antonio, which features one of the most experienced local organizing committees in the country, and our No. 1 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 has not made a decision on whether fans will be allowed to attend.
In a statement, the organization said it will be using Diamond Health as the testing provider and will work closely with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
Dr. Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager with oversight of the SAMHD, told media that NCAA COVID-19 protocols would be in effect, including requiring seven negative tests before teams’ departure for San Antonio, and private charter travel to minimize exposure.
“We’ve spent weeks talking with the NCAA. These are the same protocols that will be in place for the men’s tournament. I’ve ben very impressed with the protocols the NCAA has put together,” she said.
Teams will stay in hotels in San Antonio and the surrounding Bexar County area.
“San Antonio was already poised to successfully host the NCAA Women’s Final Four this year, but to bring all 64 teams in this prestigious championship tournament to our city is a remarkable opportunity for our event and hospitality industry,” added San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg. “I can assure the NCAA and the teams we will deliver the best, safest and most memorable experience possible.”
The women's bracket will be announced March 15.
Follow colleges reporter Eddie Timanus on Twitter @EddieTimanus
Connecticut center Tina Charles (31) and Baylor center Brittney Griner (42) go up for the opening tip of a semifinal in the Final Four of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Sunday, April 4, 2010, in San Antonio. (Photo: Eric Gay, AP)
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