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Division II reduces bracket sizes for championships

Corbin McGuire
NCAA

The Division II Administrative Committee on Monday approved a recommendation to reduce bracket and field sizes for the 2021 Division II winter and spring championships.

The reductions were made to alleviate expected budget shortfalls, specifically as the Division II budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year faces challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The field and bracket size reductions of the 18 Division II 2021 winter and spring championships vary by sport, with 12 of them being reduced by 25%. The reductions, listed below, were initially recommended by each sport committee. The Division II Championships Committee and the Division II Planning and Finance Committee each approved the recommendations. The reductions that are more or less than 25% were made because of logistical or practical concerns with operating that sport’s championship.

Projected expenses to host championships this fiscal year are higher because of testing and other safety protocols. Ticket revenues for the Association are projected to be lower due to limited fan attendance. Even including the savings from the cancellation of the Division II 2020 fall championships, holding the division’s 2021 winter and spring championships with full brackets and field sizes was projected to exceed the Division II championship budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Additionally, Division II needed to use nearly $5 million from its reserves to cover expenses for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Lost revenue from the cancellation of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championships caused Division II to be allocated nearly $35 million less than it was projected for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Division II did receive $15 million in event cancellation insurance — part of $270 million the NCAA received between multiple policies — that helped mitigate the financial impact.

The Administrative Committee emphasized that the Division II governance structure will continue to monitor circumstances presented by COVID-19, such as each sport’s sponsorship numbers, and will remain nimble in adjusting the division’s championships as needed.

“While reducing any number of championship opportunities is an undesirable outcome, Division II’s Championships Committee and its sport committees worked incredibly hard to preserve as many of those opportunities as possible for the winter and spring athletes who did not receive them last season,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor at South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “These reductions are also one-year changes, made during a pandemic in order to secure the long-term future of the division. Division II will remain flexible and make every effort to conduct championships at full capacity moving forward.”