Women's National Invitation Tournament
Logo of the Women's National Invitational Tournament
|Founder||Triple Crown Sports|
|No. of teams||64|
|TV partner(s)||CBS Sports Network|
|Women's Basketball Invitational|
The Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) is a women's college national basketball tournament with a preseason and postseason version played every year. It is operated in a similar fashion to the men's college National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Unlike the NIT, the women's tournament is not run by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), but is an independent National Championship. After the National Women's Invitational Tournament folded in 1996, its concept was resurrected in 1998 by Triple Crown Sports under the same name, but was changed the following season to the current name. Triple Crown Sports is a company based in Fort Collins, Colorado that specializes in the promotion of amateur sporting events.
The WNIT started in 1998 as a sixteen-team tournament. It was doubled to a thirty-two-team tournament in 1999. In 2006, competing schools assumed more responsibility, hosting the early rounds of the tourney, and additional expansion was made to forty teams. At that time, schools which won their regular-season conference title but were excluded from the NCAA tournament by having lost their conference tournament were awarded automatic bids. The field was further expanded in 2007 to forty-eight teams, with automatic bids awarded to each Division I conference. The tournament was expanded to its current sixty-four teams in 2010.
The field consists of 32 automatic berths – one from each conference – and 32 at-large teams. Thirty-two spots in the Postseason WNIT are filled automatically by the best team available in each of the nation’s 32 conferences, If a conference’s automatic qualifier team declines the WNIT invitation, the conference forfeits that automatic spot, and that selection goes into the pool of at-large schools. The remaining 32 team slots in the Postseason WNIT are filled by the top teams available. Any team from a Division I conference, or a Division I independent team, will be considered. Any team considered for an at-large berth must have an overall record of .500 or better. Bids are announced on the evening of the same day that the NCAA tourney bids are made.
The current, sixty-four-team tournament has thirty-two first-round games, followed by sixteen second-round games, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, and the championship. Since the WNIT is a for profit tournament, all games are played on the site of the higher bidding team. The national championship game is currently carried on CBS Sports Network.
*Was called National Women's Invitational Tournament.
- NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament
- Women's Basketball Invitational
- National Women's Invitational Tournament