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Brad Elliott Schlossman, Forum News Service, Published December 12 2013

Schlossman: NCAA continues to make bizarre decisions

In 2006, the University of Minnesota earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Its reward was coming to Grand Forks and playing in front of a hostile crowd of about 12,000, who were almost all rooting for the Gophers to lose.

They did.

Holy Cross upset the Gophers in the first round, and starting at that point, the NCAA decided to slowly move NCAA regionals off campus to non-home sites.

Members of the committee — backed by the majority of the NCAA men’s hockey coaching body — decided that home venues were too big of an advantage.

For the last five years, no regionals have been held at home venues. They’ve all been at neutral sites.

And although some pushed to switch the format to top seeds hosting, the vast majority have resisted any change. At last spring’s offseason meetings, the coaches overwhelming voted to keep regional venues at pre-determined, off-campus sites.

UND knew this.

It put in a bid for Ralph Engelstad Arena to host future regionals, but knew it was basically a 1 in 100 shot. So, it also put in a bid for Fargo. Not surprisingly, Fargo’s bid won out, with the NCAA keeping in line with the coaches’ wishes.

But, as most have figured out by now, the NCAA can’t seem to get out of its own way these days and once again pulled a major head-scratcher.

While the West Regional will be held at Scheels Arena in Fargo in 2015, the Midwest Regional will be held in South Bend, Ind.

At Compton Family Ice Arena.

On Notre Dame’s campus.

That’s right. All of the sudden, with no warning, with no backing for a change, going against the exact policy that placed a regional in Fargo instead of Grand Forks the same year, it is placing a regional on Notre Dame’s campus.

Yes, the Midwest Regional has been hurting for attendance and placing it in South Bend should increase the number of fans and revenue.

But if those items were important, why wouldn’t the committee decide to sell out 12,000 tickets in The Ralph instead of 5,000 in Fargo?

How did the NCAA’s unwritten policy all the sudden change? Why did it change? In the coming days, we will hopefully get answers.

Just as strange as the South Bend decision is the one to host two Women’s Frozen Fours at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis and none in Grand Forks.

There were four finalists to host the Women’s Frozen Four for a four-year timespan. Each gets one year, right?

Wrong.

Three of them were awarded bids. The Ralph, which has hosted just about everything from a Women’s Final Faceoff to the World Juniors to an NCAA men’s regional, apparently is not fit to host a Women’s Frozen Four.

Sources tell the Herald that the committee contacted The Ralph and asked it to make an adjustment to its bid. The arena agreed. If that wasn’t enough, why did the committee even ask for a change?

The bottom line is this: Fargo will be a great site for a regional. There are no arguments about that. UND has to be happy about getting one that close.

But that doesn’t let the NCAA off the hook for yet another bizarre decision.

Schlossman is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald