WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: MAC holds meeting with coaches on tournament

Athletic directors to vote Friday on possible changes

Overwhelmed by options, the Mid-American Conference is trying to decide on a possible format change for the women's volleyball conference tournament.


Eastern Michigan coach Kim Berrington expressed her frustration Monday, having little information on the situation. Ball State coach Steve Shondell said last week he was unaware of any deliberations.


Discussions on changing the format of the women's volleyball conference tournament lasted more than an hour and a half Tuesday morning. It ended with no recommendation to athletic directors.


"The meeting was very informative and we have a very good idea of the many opinions we have," Berrington said. "The athletic directors wanted more information from us before they vote."


Athletic directors will vote Friday in another conference call to decide on any changes to the current 12-team format for the MAC Tournament.


"Discussions have been ongoing," said Jeff Bacon, assistant commissioner for championship and sport programs in the MAC. "We're engaged with the coaches and athletic directors."


Bacon declined to comment on any of the format changes that were discussed during the conference call.


The MAC has set a one-month timetable for an announcement on the future of the tournament.


The current format allows all 12 MAC teams to participate, with the first round held at campus sites. The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship match are held at a neutral site — the SeaGate Centre in Toledo, Ohio, which is involved in a separate discussion for change.


"We're trying to get more than one team in the NCAA Tournament," Bowling Green coach Denise Van De Walle said. "We're all guessing there is going to be a change, but we don't know what it is going to be yet."


Among the ideas up for discussion include restricting eligibility to six teams, reseeding teams so the teams with the best record are rewarded for regular-season success and whether teams should be forced to play three consecutive days to win the conference tournament.


The regular-season conference schedule represents a hurdle as well. The conference schedules for 2011 and 2012 are already locked in.


Many coaches want to promote the best teams to make the MAC more of a power in volleyball.


"Everyone wants to do what's best for the MAC, but we all have different ideas to what that is," Miami coach Carolyn Condit said. "We want to continue to improve our conference's RPI but have a great tournament."


The MAC ranked 10th in the final RPI standings in 2010. While the conference tournament gives the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, nonconference schedules can have the biggest impact on RPI.


Discussions of a format change began in the fall when a committee consisting of three coaches — Ryan Theis of Ohio, Van De Walle from Bowling Green and Colleen Munson of Western Michigan — and Ball State associate athletic director Karin Lee was formed to make volleyball a priority sport.


The Ball State athletics department did not make Shondell or players available to comment.


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