The NCAA announced it will hold a 32-team postseason tournament called the Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament (WBIT) beginning this season. The event will be a secondary tournament, similar to the NIT on the men’s side.
It will be owned and funded by the NCAA, unlike the current WNIT, which is operated by an independent organization.
“Women’s basketball is at an all-time high with records being set for national championship and Final Four viewership, and the tournament was the most viewed since 2009,” said Jamie Boggs, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and vice president of athletics for Grand Canyon, in the official release.
“This tournament will create an additional NCAA-funded postseason opportunity for women’s basketball, and it comes at a time when we are seeing tremendous growth in popularity for women’s basketball.”
The national championship game between LSU and Iowa this year featured 9.9 million viewers, the most for any women’s college basketball game.
Details are forthcoming on the selection process, bracketing and sites. The NCAA will reveal the selection committee later in the summer. It will comprise of women’s basketball stakeholders and NCAA members.
As part of the release, the NCAA unveiled the logo and branding for the WBIT. Its main color scheme is orange, which is also heavily featured in the women’s March Madness branding. The logo features WBIT in white block letters with a ball going in a hoop.
NCAA announces creation of Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament:https://t.co/wsaOZuV0Ed— NCAA PR (@NCAA_PR) July 17, 2023
The NCAA expanded the NCAA Tournament field from 64 teams 68 for the 2021-22 season to match the number of teams in the men’s tourney.
With 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament and 32 in the WBIT, the NCAA will provide 100 postseason berths.
The WNIT began in 1998. It began as a 16-team field and has had iterations of 32, 48 and 64 teams. Kansas defeated Columbia in the WNIT final this past season. South Dakota State won the tournament in 2022. Rice claimed the 2021 title. There has been no word on what the announcement means for the WNIT.