Gymnastics: NCAA approves format change
2011 Championships will see Final Four replacing Super Six
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The Super Six was a good format, but a "Final Four" of sorts is even better for collegiate gymnastics.

That was the final determination by the NCAA Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, which agreed with the coaches' proposal to change the NCAA format starting with the 2011 NCAA Championships.

Overall, 12 teams will continue to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but only four will advance to the finals night.

The change was made in an effort to shorten the length of the championship night which will make it easier to follow by eliminating byes and in the process will make it more TV friendly.

CBS is considering televising the championships live, something Utah coach Greg Marsden has long hoped for in an effort to give the sport more exposure.

"It's a step in the right direction and it gives us at least a starting point to begin to work towards getting our championships on live television," he said. "I've learned life is a compromise and it isn't everything I would have wanted to see, but at least it's a step."

The championships, held the third weekend of April, will hold the preliminaries on Friday at noon and 6 p.m., the team finals on Saturday between noon and 3 p.m. and the individual finals on Sunday between noon and 2 p.m.

Currently the championships begin on Thursday and end on Saturday with the individual championships.

Cleveland is hosting the 2011 championships.

The NCAA Gymnastics Committee must come up with a name for its four-team format but it can't use the Final Four, since those rights belong to the basketball championships.

Going to a four-team format is the first major change for the NCAA Championships since it started using the Super Six format in 1993.

The other major change many coaches pushed for was to count all six participants per event for the postseason.

Counting all six scores didn't have as strong a backing among the coaches because some believed it would hurt teams who didn't have as much depth as the national powers.

Others, including Marsden, didn't like the idea of counting all six scores for the postseason only.

"While I'm in favor of counting everything, I'm not unhappy it didn't go forward at this point because I wasn't as comfortable with the idea in that form," he said.

The committee likely will pursue a future change according to Stanford's Mike Lorenzen, who serves as president of the coaches' association.

"Personally, I do believe that counting every score is an important compliment to the team finals change in terms of creating unpredictable competitive outcomes and increasing the opportunity for upsets, new champions and more exciting competitions," Lorenzen said.

lwodraska@sltrib.com