The NCAA Championship Committee Report is out and can be found here.
With respect to volleyball, one important development was announced and that was a reduction of the number of at-large bids (Pool C) to be handed out in 2018. This is due to an increase in Pool B bids to two (2) from one. Pool B bids are used for independent teams and there was an influx this year. The NCAA uses a formula to derive the number of Pool B bids each year and unfortunately an increase was warranted. I say “unfortunately” because the independent schools typically are much worse than Pool C teams so the end result is a weaker NCAA Tournament.
If you want to look into the future a bit, the increase in independent schools was due to the creation of the Atlantic East Conference, which does not have a Pool A bid associated with its champion at this time. They are one of two conferences like this (the other being the American Collegiate Athletic Association, which was created last year). The AEC will function like a normal conference so they will receive a Pool A bid at some point in the future. This will reduce the Pool B bids back to one but keep the Pool C bids at 19. The ACAA is a collection of schools that are not regional close to each other and therefore do not play a “normal” season. It’s unclear what their Pool A status might be in the future. Regardless, the days of 20 at-large bids seems to be over.
To paraphrase Al Franken, “How will this affect me – the West Region?” The West Region currently has a team listed as an independent in UC Santa Cruz, and a team that is a member of the ACAA in Mills College. If either became good enough to be awarded a Pool A or Pool B bid, I suspect, even though travel is not a consideration for selection, that we would still only see 7 or 8 teams selected for the West Regional meaning a better team would be left home. It would also probably mean a regional hosted in the Southern California area, since both schools are in California.
Now to take off my conspiracy glasses for the rest of the post; there was a request to move all NCAA Championship Regionals to Thursday – Saturday, which was rejected due to the impact of an extra day of missed school. Currently, the regionals are Friday – Sunday unless there is a school playing that prohibits play on Sundays. In these cases, the Thursday – Saturday schedule will be used for that specific regional.
The same 43 conferences as last year that had Pool A bids (automatic qualifiers) will once again receive them in 2018.
Finally, the one-year experiment to reseed the Final 8 teams at the NCAA Championship (which I lovingly call the Emory Rule) will be continued in 2018. Once again this will benefit the top schools placed in a weaker bracket, and therefore awarded with an easier path to the Final 8, by giving them also a weaker opponent in their first match at the Championship. Seems fair. In all seriousness, I understand the logic to reseed but I don’t think it’s fair when the regionals are not seeded evenly. From a West Region perspective, and with the bias shown to them in the past, it just means more of a gauntlet to have to run through. Of course, this didn’t slow down 2017 NCAA Division III West Region Representing Volleyball Champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps! (Whoops, I guess I put those glasses back on for a second.)
I have updated the FAQ page with the information from the meeting.