The Ivy League announced Thursday it will add men’s and women’s basketball tournaments beginning with the 2016-17 season. It’s a historic move since the Ivy League was the last of the 32 Division I conferences that did not hold a conference tournament to determine its automatic NCAA Tournament representative.
The League’s Council of Presidents approved four-team tournaments in men’s and women’s basketball, with a one-game reduction for each team in the regular season. The tournaments will determine the conference’s automatic bids to the NCAA Division I Basketball Championships. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will be held at the Palestra on March 11 and 12, 2017.
Each tournament will consist of two semifinal games on the first day (Saturday) with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed, followed by the championship game played the next day (Sunday). The release notes that “teams that finish with the best records from the 14-game, regular-season conference schedule will continue to be recognized as Ivy League champions,” but now that honor comes without a guaranteed NCAA Tournament bid.
The location of the 2018 tournaments and the location and dates of the 2019 tournaments will be announced at a later date.
The league’s release included quotes from those who worked on the conference tournament proposal:
“The presidents adopted the proposal to establish men’s and women’s basketball tournaments after thoughtful discussions and careful review of the thorough information provided by our athletics directors and head coaches. Ultimately, this decision was based on enhancing the overall experience for our basketball student-athletes, while also paying attention to time demands by shortening the regular season.” – Peter Salovey, Yale President and Chair, Council of Ivy League Presidents
“The structure of our basketball tournaments is consistent with our model of college athletics and the format allows us to preserve the significance of the regular season.” – Robin Harris, Ivy League executive director
“I witnessed not only a great game at last year’s men’s basketball playoff, but also a perfect example of what the atmosphere for Ivy League tournaments will be. Combining our teams and their historic rivalries at one venue will make these tournaments a memorable experience for our alumni, fans and student-athletes.” – Harry Sheehy, Dartmouth athletic director
“This is a great opportunity to showcase our talented student-athletes when all eyes are on college basketball. These tournaments enhance the importance of every single game of our conference schedule as our teams compete for the opportunity to be a part of a championship experience.” – Mitch Henderson, Princeton men’s head coach
“These tournaments will be a great celebration of basketball. They provide us the opportunity to feature our League during a time of year when national attention is focused on basketball.” – Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard women’s head coach