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NCAA announces 5-year strategy for women's basketball

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NEW YORK (AP) — The NCAA announced a five-year strategy Monday providing guidelines for decision making across all three divisions, the first time the NCAA has come up with a cross-divisional plan for a single sport.

College sports' governing body will explore potential changes to championship formats, officiating and other areas in an effort to further popularize the game.

Women's basketball is coming off another strong Final Four that saw Baylor edge Notre Dame for the title. Ratings were up and attendance for the entire tournament was at its highest in 15 years .

"Women's college basketball just experienced a phenomenal and exhilarating postseason with the 2019 NCAA Division I Women's Final Four and the Division II and III national championships," said Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president of women's basketball. "Playing off these successes, we are excited to be officially rolling out our new game plan for the next five years."

The NCAA wants to increase the number of qualified officials in the pipeline through enhancing skill development, evaluations and accountability of the referees. The NCAA also plans to collaborate with the Sports Science Institute to promote mental health awareness for women's basketball. There will also be a review of championship formats to try and enhance site selections for regionals.

Earlier this week the NCAA announced that all three women's basketball college championships will be played together in Dallas in 2023 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The NCAA also played all three Final Fours together in 2016 when the national semifinals were in Indianapolis.

The NCAA engaged more than 1,000 stakeholders in development of its five-year plan that will guide Divisions I, II and III in collaboration with their key stakeholders to express a shared vision for the future of women's basketball. The leaders of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, USA Basketball, ESPN, and other strategic partners also participated in the feedback and planning process.

"Values drive behavior and sharing these values across all of NCAA women's basketball is important," Holzman said. "As we work to grow this sport, we encourage others to join us in being champions for women's basketball by getting involved as the NCAA rolls out our action plans and priorities later this summer."

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