The NCAA is radically changing the format for its women’s gymnastics championships starting in 2019, putting LSU’s plans to host a regional championship that year in limbo.
Six one-day, six-team regionals will be replaced by four nine-team regional/super regional competitions that will be held over three days, the NCAA announced Tuesday.
In April, LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center was one of six sites awarded a 2019 NCAA regional. Whether LSU will still host a regional/super regional will be determined later this year, according to associate head coach Jay Clark.
The new format is as follows:
• The No. 8 and 9 seeds in each regional will compete in a play-in meet on the first day.
• On day two, the remaining eight teams will compete in two sessions of four teams each. The top two teams from each session will advance to the final day of super regional competition.
• The top two teams from each four-team super regional will advance to the NCAA Championships.
• At the championship site, eight teams will be whittled to four that will advance to the second day of the meet and vie for the national title. Individual NCAA championships will be awarded on day one.
The new format will eliminate the need for byes during NCAA meets — six teams competing in four events. The NCAA estimates it will cut the length of championship meets by about 90 minutes.
The current format, which will be used in 2018, allows two teams from each regional to advance to the NCAA Championships, for a total of 12. From that number, six teams advance to compete for the national title, a format known as the Super Six.
The 2018 NCAA Championships will be in St. Louis for the second straight year, with regionals in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; University Park, Pennsylvania; Salt Lake City and Minneapolis.
"It's hard," said Clark, who is on the executive board of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches. "You're throwing out records, and there may not be years where we get into this 'final four.'
"It's definitely going to be much more difficult. But it's being done for the betterment of the sport."
LSU, which finished second in the NCAA Championships the past two seasons, holds its preseason Gymnastics 101 event Dec. 11 and opens the 2018 season Jan. 5 at home against Arkansas.