Report: League officials makes changes to the Ivy Tournament

As the college basketball world gets ready to tip off on Tuesday night, the Ivy League has its eyes on its end-of-year tournament.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tannenwald reported late Monday morning that the conference has decided to move each of the women’s events up one day making Ivy Madness a four-day event.

Prior to the 2018 Ivy Tournament, the Harvard Magazine’s David Tannenwald wrote “A Gendered Schedule”, a piece that described the frustration that a number of Ivy women’s basketball coaches had with the schedule from the inaugural tournament in 2017.  That year, the women’s semifinals were played in the late morning and evening, book-ending the men’s semifinals. Despite the conference’s best intentions, the coaches and their teams felt like second-class citizens in an event that was supposed to reflect equality.

The league heard the coaches and changed the schedule for years two and three of the tournament.  In 2018 and 2019, the women’s semis were played after the men’s contests, typically around 6:00 and 8:30 p.m.  That was an improvement for fans who wanted to watch both women’s games, but still difficult timing for the winning teams that would have to turn around hours later for a 4 p.m. Sunday final.

With the 2020 edition of Ivy Madness, being held for the first time at Harvard’s 1,636-seat Lavietes Pavilion, the league continues to try to improve its handling of the women’s schedule as it works around an inflexible ESPN schedule for the men’s tournament.

Upon review of the 2020 Ivy Madness site, there are new schedules, ticket prices and ticket packages compared to last year.

This year:

  • Women semifinals will be Friday 3/13/20 at 5 p.m. & 8 p.m.
  • Women final will be Saturday 3/14/20 at 5 p.m.
  • Men semifinals will be Saturday at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
  • Men final will be Sunday 3/15/20 at 12 p.m.
  • Women’s shootaround will be Thursday and men’s shootaround will be Friday (no specific time)
  • There is no complete all-session package for all six games.
  • There are all-session packages for each of the women’s and men’s tournaments. Those interested in getting all six games would have to purchase an All-Session packages for each division.
  • The three men’s games will cost $150 for bleachers & $200 for chairbacks.  Courtside tickets can be purchased by contacting Harvard Athletics.
  • The three women’s games will be $40 for bleachers & $50 for chairbacks.  Courtside tickets can be purchased by contacting Harvard Athletics.
  • Other than the “all-session” tickets, the only other option is to purchase tickets through a school-specific “fan block” for each tournament. Fans select tickets for the semifinals with their school. If that team does not get into the Tournament, individuals get a refund. If the team gets into the tournament and wins in the semifinals, fans automatically get charged for a ticket to the final.
  • A “fan block” ticket for the men’s tournament is $55 for bleacher & $75 for chairback ($110 or $150 if a team gets to the final)
  • A “fan block” ticket for the women’s tournament is $15 for bleacher or $20 for chairback.

Compared to last year:

  • Tickets have been on sale since Monday. Last year, there was a pre-sale to select individuals on December 11.
  • This year, fans cannot buy a one session ticket. Last year, people could buy men’s semifinals only, women’s semifinals only, men’s & women’s finals only, all-sessions (six games), all-women’s games, women’s final only
  • For 2020, individuals have to buy tickets to men’s & women’s games separately. Last year, buying tickets for men’s semifinals and men’s finals gave automatic entrance to the later women’s games.
  • Last year, three women’s games were $35. This year’s cost is $40 or $50. The two-game, school-specific option is $30 or $40.
  • Last year, three men’s games were $60 or $170 (plus entrance to the women’s games for no extra charge). This year, it is $150 or $200. The two-game School-specific option will cost $110 or $150.

Ivy League officials did not respond to a request from Ivy Hoops Online, but Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris spoke with Jonathan Tannenwald about the league’s decisions:

  • The new schedule, picked in the spring by the athletic directors, was changed to accommodate the women’s coaches, who wanted semifinal times that were not dependent on the conclusion of the men’s games and a later start time for the finals.
  • Since league officials noticed that most fans appear interested in only one division and generally attend games when their school is involved, they developed the school-only and separate division ticketing options.
  • The price discrepancy between the women’s and men’s tournaments, developed by league officials and approved by the athletic directors, is based on a “fan-friendly model” that settled on ticket prices they believe will fill Lavietes Pavilion and accounts for the fact that the women’s game tends to attract families with small children as well as retirees.

IHO did not immediately receive comment from several current and former Ivy coaches.

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