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‘Extremely disappointed.’ Transy not happy NCAA sent its women’s basketball team packing.

The NCAA revealed on Sunday that Transylvania women’s basketball will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for — and not host — the second weekend of the 2024 Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The Pioneers (29-0), the second-overall seed in this year’s tournament, are the only unbeaten team to not receive hosting privileges for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games.

Top-overall seed NYU (27-0), which did not host in the opening weekend due to its men’s team hosting the opening weekend (men’s teams receive hosting priority in even years, women’s teams in odd), and third-overall seed Rhode Island College (29-0), which did host the opening rounds, will both play in front of a home crowd this weekend.

Transylvania did serve as host for the opening round games on Friday and Saturday, but will travel roughly seven hours northwest for the next round.

Administrators connected to the program expressed their frustration with the NCAA’s decision to select Wisconsin-Whitewater (24-4) as the tournament’s second-weekend host.

Transylvania University president Brien Lewis shared his distaste for the decision with NCAA president Charlie Baker in an early afternoon email shared with the Herald-Leader.

“Dear President Baker,

“I am extremely disappointed to learn that despite being the undefeated national champions and being on a historic 62-game winning streak (the third longest in DIII women’s basketball), the Transylvania Pioneers will not be hosting the next round but will be sent on a 7-hour bus trip to Whitewater, Wisconsin.

“To say that this seems a very poor way of rewarding consistent outstanding performance by these student athletes and their dedicated supporters is a gross understatement.

“While I understand and applaud the general policy of limiting flights and travel, this does not appear appropriate or reasonable in these circumstances and given the bracketing and results of the tournament to date.

“I regret having no alternative at this point but to express this frustration very publicly.

“Sincerely,

Brien”

A representative of Transylvania University said Lewis’ email may be used as the university’s statement.

Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference commissioner Jay Jones issued the following statement via email to the Herald-Leader on Sunday.

“It is always disheartening when your team is not given the respect and recognition they have earned. While we have been assured that the decision was based on a travel and cost-saving policy, it nonetheless puts a defending national champion, that has not lost a game in two seasons, over seven hours from home. I hurt for the players, their families and the city of Lexington that has really embraced this team over the last two seasons and deserved a chance to support them on their home floor next weekend.”

Sadie Wurth (15) scored 25 points to lead Transylvania past Ohio Wesleyan 70-55 in Lexington on Saturday. The undefeated, defending national champion Pioneers will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for their NCAA Sweet 16 matchup against the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Friday.
Sadie Wurth (15) scored 25 points to lead Transylvania past Ohio Wesleyan 70-55 in Lexington on Saturday. The undefeated, defending national champion Pioneers will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for their NCAA Sweet 16 matchup against the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Friday.

According to D3hoops.com, the purveyor of the widely accepted regular season rankings for both men’s and women’s Division III college basketball, there is no perfect formula for deciphering which teams get to host.

“The NCAA Tournament selection committees build the brackets and decide which schools will host each weekend. While teams with higher regional rankings have a better chance to host, several factors go into hosting decisions including geography, facilities, attendance history and revenue potential and a school’s willingness to host. The NCAA has encouraged the committees to keep travel costs down, especially during the opening weekend, so the committee may give hosting opportunities to a lower seeded team that is closer to the other teams in the pod and reduces the number of flights the NCAA has to cover. If a team is 500 miles or more from the game site, the NCAA will pay for the team’s flight.”

Per the most recent NCAA regional rankings as of games through Feb. 25, Transylvania is the No. 1 team in Region VIII. Wisconsin-Whitewater is the top team in Region IX. The Warhawks reached their third straight Sweet 16 with an 86-47 victory over Minnesota-Morris in the first round and an 89-65 defeat of Millikin in the second round.

Region IV leader NYU’s bracket quarter contains two other region Nos. 1 in Region V leader Scranton (27-2) and Region X leader Hardin-Simmons (26-3). Bowdoin (27-2), the top team in Region I, and Rhode Island College, the No. 1 team in Region II, are the only region leaders in their respective bracket quarters.

Last season, unbeaten Transylvania hosted the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament before traveling to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, for the second weekend. The Pioneers went on to win the first national championship in program history.

Transylvania faces the University of Wisconsin-Stout at 6 p.m. EST on Friday at the Kachel Gymnasium in Williams Center before Wisconsin-Whitewater and Hope College (26-3) tip off at 8:30 p.m.

Wisconsin-Stout (23-7) defeated Washington University in St. Louis 71-61 in the first round and Puget Sound 61-40 in the second round to reach the Sweet 16.

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