Commentary

Lacrosse tourney times up for debate

Updated: August 5, 2009, 1:04 PM ET
By Christian Swezey | Inside Lacrosse

The NCAA lacrosse tournament committee meetings in Indianapolis ended Friday. While final decisions either will not be made or, in some cases, will not be announced until mid-September, there were more than a few interesting topics of discussion.

The most interesting topic revolves around the game times for the 2010 NCAA Division I semifinals and championship game.

It is believed there is a proposal to start the semifinals at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET (as opposed to the usual noon and 3 p.m.). There also is believed to be a proposal to start the title game at 3 p.m. (instead of 1 p.m.).

NCAA men's lacrosse committee chair Tim Pavlechko would not address directly whether any time changes are imminent. In an interview with InsideLacrosse.com, however, he did say changing game times "was definitely on the table" and that ESPN was among the entities that made a presentation to the committee.

A decision on game times, if they change at all, will be announced in mid-September, Pavlechko said.

TV ratings for the semifinals and title game increased as the game day wore on, regardless of which teams were playing, according to sources familiar with the ratings.

It is strongly believed that the games will not be moving into prime time, at least not anytime soon. Pavlechko noted the NCAA's commitment to "the family experience" of the championship weekend. Moving the games into prime time would not seem to be family friendly.

But midafternoon start times would appear to do many things:

• Retain much, if not all, of the family atmosphere.

• Help fans, on-site and otherwise, build excitement for the games as the day progresses.

• Increase TV ratings.

• Allay potential traffic problems.

• Improve play, possibly significantly, considering the games would not be played during the warmest part of the day.

• Appeal greatly to the sport's growing fan base in different time zones.

Pavlechko said there are a number of other announcements that will come following broader NCAA meetings in mid-September.

Among the announcements could be NCAA quarterfinal sites for 2011 and 2012. Annapolis, Md., almost certainly will bid, and it is believed Denver is considering a bid as well.

Meanwhile, there will be a new committee member soon. The tenure for Maryland coach Dave Cottle ended July 31.

The current committee members are Pavlechko, an associate athletic director at Bucknell; Towson coach Tony Seaman; Air Force associate athletic director Dermot Coll; and Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise. (Scalise also was the lacrosse coach at Harvard in the 1980s.)

Cottle's replacement bears watching. The committee received some criticism -- although whether it was justified or not is another matter -- for having coaches be part of the NCAA tournament selection process.

In an interview on a Baltimore radio show in early May, Seaman defended having coaches on the committee. He believes coaches have the most accurate insights into the qualities of the teams competing for the remaining spots in the tournament.

But lacrosse is one of the few sports in which coaches have a direct role in the tournament selection process.

It also appears that those who are advocating, or at least hoping, for the sport to move its championship weekend from Memorial Day will be disappointed. Pavlechko said that for now, the committee is more than pleased with Memorial Day weekend.

"It's already such a great weekend," Pavlechko said. "But it's our job to find out if there's any way to make it better."

For more on college lacrosse, check out Inside Lacrosse.