July 17, 2009
Follow Friday's live blog from the mock selection in Indianapolis by visiting the NCAA's double-a zone.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Vanderbilt's Melanie Balcomb was one of 18 current head basketball coaches invited by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball group to participate in a mock women’s basketball tournament selection at the NCAA national office Thursday and Friday.
The two-day exercise gave participants a taste of the nearly week-long process the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee goes through annually when selecting, seeding and bracketing 64 teams for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball championship.
The mock selection committee had access to all the tools (game results, RPI calculations, etc.) and followed the same principles and procedures the actual committee follows when it assembles the championship bracket each March.
"This is an incredible opportunity to learn the process that the committee goes through each year," Balcomb said. "I'm honored to be among such a great group of coaches and to have the chance to be a part of this dialogue with the NCAA. We're getting an inside look at things that we may never have learned otherwise, and they've been very receptive to our feedback as well.
This is the first time the mock committee consisted entirely of coaches and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) administrators.
Those who attended were:
Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut
Melanie Balcomb, Vanderbilt University
Joanne Boyle, University of California, Berkeley
Doug Bruno, DePaul University
Sherri Coale, University of Oklahoma
Brian Giorgis, Marist University
Gail Goestenkors, University of Texas
Shann Hart, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Sylvia Hatchell, University of North Carolina
Rick Insell, Middle Tennessee State University
Wendy Larry, Old Dominion University
Felisha Legette-Jack, Indiana University
Joanne P. McCallie, Duke University
Curt Miller, Bowling Green State University
Jeff Mittie, Texas Christian University
Jennifer Rizzotti, University of Hartford
Audra Smith, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Sharon Versyp, Purdue University
WBCA Chief Executive Officer Beth Bass
WBCA consultant Betty Jaynes
Four active coaches (Coale, Bruno, Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame and Gary Blair of Texas A&M) attended a mock selection exercise last February. Based on the feedback from that exercise, the WBCA and the NCAA women’s basketball staff collaborated to coordinate the summer session.
“The committee has always felt the value of adding transparency to the process,” said Jane Meyer, incoming chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate director of athletics at Iowa.
Meyer said coaches who have attended past mock selections have typically come away with a new perspective on what it means to be a committee member.
“This exercise shows them that selection is based upon an extensive array of factors, and the committee has much data at its disposal as part of the decision-making process,” Meyer said. “The process has many layers, but in the end, it identifies those teams deserving to be included in the field of 64.”
This mock selection posed a different challenge since participants already know how the 2008-09 season finished. With this in mind, they were asked to base their discussions on the results from the 2008-09 regular season and 2009 conference tournaments.
Both the Division I men’s basketball staff and the women’s staff began conducting mock selections with national print and electronic media members in 2007 in an attempt to clarify the process that the 10-person men’s and women’s basketball committees experience each March when the championship brackets are constructed and announced.