Women's tournament will have 16 first- and second-round sites

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA Women's Tournament will have 16
sites instead of eight for its first two rounds starting in 2009.

The tournament last used the 16-site format in 2004, when it set
an attendance record.

The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee announced its
decision Friday.

"As a coaching community we need to support the move to 16
pre-determined sites," Charli Turner Thorne of the Women's
Basketball Coaches Association board said in a statement. "We
anticipate larger crowds, increased excitement and better
television coverage during the first and second rounds. The big
winner overall will be women's basketball."

The committee also agreed to eliminate a rule that the top three
teams in a region must be from different conferences.

The move is designed to keep top teams closer to home.
Conference teams still won't be eligible to meet until regional