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Nov. 2, 2004

Indianapolis, Ind. –
Beginning in 2006, the unveiling of the 64-team field for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on ESPN will take place Monday evening. The announcement was made today by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and ESPN. The selection show for the 2005 championship, slated for Sunday, March 13, will remain in its current Sunday afternoon time slot (5 p.m. Eastern time).

“The women’s basketball committee and ESPN have been in discussions about Selection Monday for the past several years as a part of the committee’s increased efforts to formulate a comprehensive plan to promote and grow the game of women’s basketball during the regular season and the championship,” said Lynn Parkes, associate director of athletics at the University of Memphis and chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “The committee feels the move to Selection Monday will create enhanced exposure and serve as a growth agent for women’s basketball as a whole. We value our ongoing partnership with ESPN and appreciate its efforts as we work together to benefit the sport.”

John Wildhack, ESPN senior vice-president, programming, added, “The women’s basketball championship has become one of the premier sporting events annually. By creating a distinct women’s selection night, the Monday evening slot will assist in the continued growth of the sport. We plan to utilize our assets to promote and develop what we believe is the next major college sports franchise.”

The hour-long NCAA Women’s Selection Monday Special in 2006, scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time, will mark ESPN’s 14th consecutive year of exclusively announcing the women’s pairings. ESPN plans to aggressively cover Selection Monday across all the ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter, Cold Pizza,, ESPN Radio, ESPNU (college sports initiative launching in 2005), ESPN Mobile (wireless), ESPN Broadband and much more.

The move to Selection Monday will not impact the schedule for the championship. First-round competition will begin five days later Saturday.

Since 2003, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN FULL COURT have combined to present all 63 games of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. For the 2005 championship, the networks will once again regionalize early-round coverage (48 games within 15 telecast windows). Different games will be offered to different areas with all regions receiving frequent updates on other game action. Beginning with the regional semifinals, the remaining 15 games will be televised nationally.

During the 2004-05 season, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to feature 100 women’s basketball games, including 30 regular-season matchups, six conference tournament championships (two in primetime), the NCAA Division II Championship and all 63 NCAA Division I Championship contests. The most notable schedule enhancement is the inclusion of eight regular-season primetime telecasts (up from two last year). In addition, the sport will be covered extensively across ESPN, Inc.’s news outlets.

The 2004 championship ended on a record-setting note. The championship game between Connecticut and Tennessee is ESPN’s second most-viewed basketball game – men’s or women’s, college or professional – in the network’s 25-year history. The three-game Women’s Final Four, also scheduled on different days than the Men’s Final Four, was the most-viewed and highest-rated in ESPN history. Overall, the 2004 tournament was ESPN and ESPN2’s most-viewed and highest-rated ever.


ESPN is in the midst of an 11-year agreement (through 2012-13) to televise numerous NCAA championships, including marquee events in each of the three collegiate seasons. Examples include Men’s and Women’s College Cup (soccer) and Division I-AA Football in the fall; the entire Division I Women’s Basketball Championship and the Men’s Frozen Four (Hockey) in the winter; and the Men’s and Women’s College World Series in the spring.