By Doug Feinberg
AP Basketball Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.
For the first time in NCAA history, the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.
“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.
The men did it a few years ago in Atlanta, but the Division II and III championships were played in a different venue than the top division.
The home of the NCAA hosts the Final Four once every five years and this time, with it being the 35th anniversary of the first championship, they decided to put all three division championships in the same city. Usually the D-II and D-III titles are played a few weeks earlier than the Division I championship.
It’s been quite the year for women’s basketball in Indianapolis already. Last summer the Indiana Fever reached the WNBA Finals, playing Games 3 and 4 on their homecourt — the same place where the college championship games will take place.
While the NAIA Division II championship was played in Sioux Falls last month, there was also an Indiana connection. Marian coach Katie Geralds, who led her team to the title, grew up in Indiana and starred at Purdue.
“I’ve seen continued growth and support for our sport,” Fever president Kelly Krauskopf said.
“In this part of the country and in the city of Indianapolis there is a lot of pride about the sport of basketball. It’s Indiana’s game. That’s what we like to call it. Having these championships here is a big thing for us. It’s a reflection point on how much the city embraces women’s sports and women’s basketball.”
The Division I semifinals will be played Sunday night with the Division II and III title games occurring on Monday. The Division I championship will be played Tuesday night.
“I think it’s a really smart move,” Krauskopf said. “When you can bring all the best players in each division into one city it’s great for everyone.”
While Geno Auriemma has a busy weekend ahead already with his UConn Huskies on the brink of an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, he plans on being at the Division III game on Monday supporting his former player Carla Berube, who is the coach of Tufts.
“I think it’s great for basketball in general, because there’s going to be a lot of interest, obviously, that wouldn’t ordinarily be there,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that I am going to do everything I can to be at that game.”