Changes to NAIA Basketball, Swim and Dive Championship Formats Announced
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) made two critical announcements on Friday after both its National Administrative Council (NAC) full body and Council of Presidents (COP) made decisions related to national championships.
First, the NAC voted to reduce the field size of both the men’s and women’s basketball championships from 64 to 48 teams in response to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the COP voted to approve a measure to split the men’s and women’s swimming and diving national championships into two separate competitions for 2021 only.
The NAC approved the basketball measure that will reduce the overall field size, but will be designed to maintain conference at-large berths.
The basketball move will directly affect NAIA National Championship Opening Rounds, which will change from 16, four-team tournaments per gender to eight, six-team (three-team pod) tournaments per gender. The four sites that have already been announced in Wichita, Kan. (2), Omaha, Neb., and Alexandria, La., will continue as hosts.
Each opening round site will feature two, three-team “pod” tournaments (per gender) in which the No. 1 seed will receive a bye. The Nos. 2 & 3 teams will play each other on day one, and will face the No. 1 seed in that pod for the championship. The winner of that final game will go to the NAIA National Championship Final Site in either Sioux City, Iowa (women) or Kansas City, Mo. (men).
Also in response to COVID-19 concerns, the COP approved the measure that will temporarily separate the men’s and women’s swimming and diving national championships for 2021. The women’s championship will take place March 3-6 and the men’s will take place March 10-13. By separating the events by gender, it will significantly reduce the number of student-athletes in the facility at the same time.
In December, the NAC also took action on movement of the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship from Brookings, S.D. to Yankton, S.D., based on COVID-19 restrictions at the original host facility.