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posted 05.26.2011 at 4.35 p.m. by Clare Lochary

Report: Big Ten Network to Broadcast Women's Lacrosse Semifinals, Championship

* Confirmed: Big Ten Will Broadcast Women's Final Four
* Official Press Release

According to conference sources, the NCAA and the Big Ten Network are in negotiations to broadcast the women’s Division I lacrosse semifinals and the championship game on television. Before this deal, the women’s lacrosse championship weekend was available only via webstream from NCAA.com. The network has previously broadcast several 2011 Northwestern games, including the Widcats’ 18-4 quarterfinal win over Albany. Five-time NCAA women’s lacrosse champion Northwestern is a Big Ten conference member, although its lacrosse team competes in the American Lacrosse Conference.  

The final details of the arrangement are still being hammered out, but the schedule is likely to include a tape delay of the Northwestern-North Carolina game on Friday night (the Big Ten baseball championship is scheduled to air live, precluding a live broadcast of the lacrosse semifinal). Both semifinals will be aired on tape delay on Saturday, and Sunday’s final will be broadcast live, even if the Wildcats lose in the semifinals. All three games are available via webcast on NCAA.com.

The news that championship weekend will be on television is welcome news to the women’s lacrosse world. After years of coverage by CBS College Sports, the NCAA’s new media deal with Turner Sports moved several championships off television and onto webcasts. The original announcement that the 2011 women’s lacrosse championship would not be televised, which was made at the 2010 annual IWCLA coaches’ convention, was met with sadness and anger by the college coaching community.

“I’ve been pretty upset about this whole TV thing. Based on attendance and where our championship has gone over the past few years, we’re on par with, if not exceeding, other sports that are on TV,” said Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. Amonte Hiller added that the IWCLA had mobilized resources to find a television home for championship weekend, and that  Northwestern athletic director James Phillips and Big Ten liaison Rob Coons were instrumental in working with the network to find a place for women’s lacrosse on television.

“This is huge for us,” said Amonte Hiller. “It’s a step in the right direction, and the Big Ten Network did a great job with our quarterfinal.”