In an effort to bring rowing more in-line with other NCAA-governed sports, the NCAA has proposed a "bracket" (or Henley-style for you quaint rowers) single elimination championship format for the top 64 men's eights. This format, slated for adoption in 2007, would function much like a traditional basketball bracket with sub-regionals and regionals, as well as an eventual "Rowing Final Four" at a rotating site every year.
Not all are happy with the proposed change. "I think this really changes the way the men's rowing championship would work," said Gary Caldwell, ECAC commissioner. "I do think that the best way to determine a national champion is the traditional six-lane, heats & reps progression regatta, but folks keep telling me that rowing is an "emerging" sport, so who knows? I guess our championship regatta has been emerging for the past 110 years."
NCAA plans call for extensive television coverage of the NCAA Rowing Championship Brackets (primarily midnight to 2am coverage on USA, TBS and the Home Shopping Network), as well as a more professional announcing staff, including rumors of Dick Vitale ("Here comes Cal, overstroking the competition, baybeeeeeeee!") joining the announcers corps for the Rowing Final Four.
Several college coaches expressed guarded enthusiasm for the idea. "Heck yeah, I am all for Henley-style racing," said one college coach, who would not give his name. "Can we have Harvard race in the Anchorage, Alaska regional every year?"