BUTTE, Mont. (AP)
The Frontier Conference has decided to hold basketball playoffs instead of a threeday tournament next winter and league officials are considering other changes to mitigate the rising cost of fuel, league commissioner Mike Walker said. Walker said league athletics directors and presidents wanted to generate more excitement for postseason basketball games after five seasons of holding a combined men's and women's tournament in Butte. They voted to hold basketball playoffs in March 2009 and evaluate the change at the league's spring 2009 meeting. The 2009 Frontier Conference postseason competition will be a seeded tournament, with the top four teams in the regular season standings having home games. The quarterfinal winners will meet in the semifinals, at the site of the top two remaining seeds. The highest seeded semifinal winner will host the championship game. The men's rounds are scheduled for March 5, 7 and 10 while the women's will be played March 4, 6 and 9. Walker said if the pairings pit the men's and women's teams from one school against those of another in the same round, a doubleheader will be played. Walker said rising fuel costs affecting bus travel and the possibility of bigger crowds were factors in ending the tournaments. "We'll have four home games in the first round, so we'll have half the schools traveling," he said. "Before, we had all the teams traveling. We're working on a reimbursement system as costs will be a concern for all our schools in all of our sports." Walker said Frontier schools are talking about scheduling a third, nonconference game against league opponents to cut down on travel. Such a change would not affect the 2008-09 season. Walker also said Lewis-Clark State won the bid for the 2008 postseason volleyball tournament. The NAIA has decided that the league volleyball tournament champion will advance directly to the national tournament, rather than a regional tournament.