Recent NCAA actions cast doubt on women’s regional in Albany

Three times in a five-year stretch, Times Union Center was host to an NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament regional.

The women’s East regional is scheduled for downtown Albany again in March, but don’t buy those tickets yet.

Earlier this week the NCAA announced plans to hold its men’s basketball tournament in a single geographic area to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Nothing has been decided on the women’s side, but the men’s announcement certainly seems to jeopardize the chances of a regional here in March.

“Because of the ongoing pandemic, the committee recognizes that the tournament might have a different feel,” Lynn Holtzman, vice president of women’s basketball for the NCAA, said in a statement released after the men’s announcement. “The committee intends to maintain a field of 64 teams, and a variety of contingency plans — including reducing the number of first- and second-round sites or bringing the entire tournament to one location — are being considered in concert with staff, medical experts and other stakeholders.”

Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber said Wednesday he has had no direct contact with the NCAA about the status of the regional.

The Albany regional is scheduled for March 26-29. The NCAA Final Four is set for April 2 and 4 in San Antonio, which would be a logical site should the women opt for a bubble concept similar to what the men have proposed in Indianapolis.

“We would have loved to have had the women’s tournament here, all three rounds,” Belber said, “but we just don’t have enough hotel rooms. You’ve got thousands of hotel rooms that are needed.”

Times Union Center, which was host in 2015, 2018 and 2019 (all won by Connecticut), is scheduled for a women’s regional in 2024. The arena, which lost first- and second-round men’s NCAA Tournament games last March because of the coronavirus, will have the men’s tournament back in 2023.

After having gone through it himself in March, Belber expressed sympathy for arenas that were scheduled to play host to 2021 men’s NCAA games.

“It got canceled so close to the start,” Belber said of the 2020 Albany sub-regional. “We were only five days away from the first round here in Albany. This time they’re way out in advance. Maybe they had just been planning and looking at options well in advance because of what happened in 2020.

“I feel bad for those sites that might have been awarded 2021. Now you’ve got two years of awards that were blown out of the water. Like we did, with the 2023 award made up for 2020, those sites that were supposed to host it in ’21, hopefully, they get that same fair shake.”

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Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma embraces Connecticut's Katie Lou Samuelson during senior night ceremonies before an NCAA college basketball game against Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma embraces Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson during senior night ceremonies before an NCAA college basketball game against Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)Jessica Hill

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Qatar says those behind search of Australian women at Doha airport committed ‘illegal actions’

The Qatari government says those responsible for the intimate medical examinations of women at Doha airport did not follow standard procedures and have been referred to the public prosecution office.



a airplane that is parked on the side of a road: Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images


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Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Women on 10 flights – including 18 women bound for Sydney – were searched in early October after a newborn baby was found dumped in the terminal. The government on Friday said a preliminary investigation into the “attempted murder” of the infant, and subsequent procedures taken by airport authorities, had found “standard procedures were violated”.



a airplane that is parked on the side of a road: Officers marched women off a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight earlier this month and forced them to undergo intimate examinations after a newborn baby was found abandoned at Doha airport.


© Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
Officers marched women off a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight earlier this month and forced them to undergo intimate examinations after a newborn baby was found abandoned at Doha airport.

“Those responsible for these violations and illegal actions have been referred to the public prosecution office,” the Qatari government said in a statement.

“This incident is the first of its kind at [the airport] which has served tens of millions of passengers without any issues like this before. What took place is wholly inconsistent with Qatar’s culture and values. Qatar is fully committed to the safety and security of all travelers.”

Related: Morrison criticised over Australia’s response to ‘appalling’ medical examinations in Doha

The government expressed the “sincerest apology for what some female travelers went through as a result of the measures”. The final report’s findings will be shared after it is completed “in the very near future”.

Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, on Friday night said she welcomed the apology.

“The preliminary investigation of Qatar into this incident has shown illegal actions occurred,” she said in a statement.

‘“It is an important step that these offences have been referred to the public prosecution office. Australian passengers will be reassured that Qatar has established a specialised taskforce to review procedures and protocols to ensure there is never a repeat of this incident.”

On Wednesday, the government of Qatar said it regretted “any distress or infringement on the personal freedom of any traveller” caused by the decision to conduct intimate medical examinations of women transiting through Doha airport, in what it said was an “urgently-decided search” to find the mother of an abandoned baby.

The Australian government confirmed earlier this week that 18 women on the flight from Doha to Sydney were subjected to the compulsory examination including 13 Australian citizens. Passengers on 10 flights leaving Doha on the evening of 2 October were affected.

Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, has said the invasive treatment of the women was “unacceptable” and “appalling” and his government would take a strident approach in seeking answers and ensuring it would never be repeated.

Related: NZ slams Qatar as citizen revealed as victim of intimate Doha airport examination

The statement issued by the Qatari government on Wednesday came three days after the incident became global news. It said the search was triggered by the discovery of a baby in a trash can at Hamad international airport

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