MJ: NCAA Approves Changes for D-II
As expected, the NCAA Division II Management Council approved an entirely new format for the 2013 national tournament when the group met last week, according to a source close to the proceedings.
Jeff Jarnecke, the associate director of championships at the NCAA, confirmed that a letter would be disseminated to the D-II membership today, but could not comment on its contents until it was sent.
The largest change is expected to be the adoption of a two-region format, supplanting the three-region model that had become the standard in D-II.
Instead of a North, Central and South region, the division will be cleaved into a North-South alignment with the soon-to-be departed East Coast Conference teams (Mercyhurst, Seton Hill, Wheeling Jesuit and Lake Erie) moving to the South. The members of the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (Mesa, Adams, Dominican, Notre Dame de Namur, Lindenwood) are expected to be planted in the North region.
"This model provides the fewest disruptions to the current regional alignment, groups institutions by geographic proximity to the extent possible and provides a strategic roadmap for future growth into a probable four-region model," said the source.
The new format sets up a true regional clash in the championship game, which will stay at the same venue with the Division I and Division III championships game on Memorial Day weekend. The eight bids are expected to be divvied up equally between the two regions, with each region playing a four-team mini-tournament to determine who will represent it in the title game. The NCAA will likely continue its current policy of not awarding automatic qualifying bids to conferences.
The new alignment will put significant pressure on teams from the new North region. Over the past six years, 10 of the 12 finalists in Division II – and five of the six champions – have come from what is the new North, with Mercyhurst comprising the two exceptions.
Part of the letter released today will address new selection criteria for making the tournament, which is assumed to be based on regional rankings.