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Division I Women's Softball Championship Now 48 Teams

 he NCAA Division I Women's Softball Committee received final approval last summer for the 48-team format, effective with the 1999 NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship.

The champions of all 24 NCAA Division I softball-playing conferences will qualify for the championship, with 24 at-large berths. This is an increase in eight at-large positions over the previous format.

The regionals, scheduled for May 20-23, will be held at eight campuses of participating institutions, with six teams at each site. The winner of each regional will advance to the eight team Women's College World Series, May 27-31, at the Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The format for the WCWS will remain the same.

Selections for the championship will take place May 15-16 and will be announced on a selection show at 8 p.m. CST Sunday, May 16. Satellite coordinates will be reported when available.

The NCAA will send proposed budget information to instititons on or around April 14, 1999, with prospective hosts required to submit a proposed budget indicating a guarantee of $3000, which should be 75 percent of the estimated net receipts, by Wednesday, May 5.

In other Division I Women's Softball Committee action:

Jeff Hansen, current umpire-in-chief for the Big 12 Conference, has been named the umpire-in-chief for the Women's College World Series.

* Kathy Orban, associate director of athletics at Western Illinois, has replaced Paula Jantz on the NCAA Division I Women's Softball Committee.

Amended the requirement that in order to host a regional at an off-campus venue, that institution must have conducted a minimum of one playing date in that facility (instead of four as originally requested).

Approved that in 2002, in order to host regional competition, a venue must have a covered and enclosed (on at least three sides) press box with adequate operational capabilities (e.g., electricity, lighting, phone lines, etc.).

Will forward a request in February to establish an umpire improvement program for softball.

Automatic-Qualifying Conferences
For 1999 Championship

America East Conference
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic-10 Conference
Big East Conference
Big South Conference
Big Ten Conference
Big 12 Conference
Big West Conference
Ivy Group
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Mid-American Athletic Conference
Mid-Continent Conference
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Midwestern Collegiate Conference
Missouri Valley Conference
Northeast Conference
Ohio Valley Conference
Pacific-10 Conference
Patriot League
Southeastern Conference
Southland Conference
Southwestern Athletic Conference
Trans America Athletic Conference
Western Athletic Conference