A top-flight championship event for our student-athletes, schools, our coaches, administrators and the fans of women’s basketball" 

 Lynn Holzman, NCAA VP of Women’s Basketball

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After ten years of pursuing the Women's Final Four, Columbus won the right to host in 2018. The city worked together to build the stage, set the spotlight and point the camera on the court, where Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale hit back-to-back game-winning shots to lead the Irish to glory.

Columbus nailed its shot, too. First-time host. Long-term impact.

By the Numbers | Supporting Events | Making History | Timeline | Media Clips | Community Support

The Teams


The numbers are bananas. Whether it was minutes spent by local third-graders crushing their Read to the Final Four, kids dribbling through downtown for Bounce or the more than 23,000 fans who flooded to Tourney Town, you won't find these stats on the box score.


Volunteer holding basketballs











"The programming and legacy developed because of this event lives on beyond the games."

- Linda Logan, CEO & President, Greater Columbus Sports Commission

Alexa Mobley attended the 2018 Women's Final Four as a fan. Her hoop dreams took her from Reynoldsburg High School to the University of Louisville.

She was a redshirt freshman for the Cardinals when they returned to the Final Four in 2022. 

Thousands of fans dribbled their way from Nationwide Arena through the Arena District and into Tourney Town, the official fan festival at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Kids registered for free and left with a ball and a t-shirt.

The free fan festival was jampacked with special appearances, autograph signings, interactive games, giveaways, basketball contests, youth clinics, a historical area, a lounge & more.

A monthly speaker series aligned with the NCAA women's basketball strategic plan to empower, engage and equip girls & women and sports with tools for professional success. Partnerships with local women's organizations helped spark meaningful conversations and connect the community through sports.

The NCAA worked with the Sports Commission & City of Columbus to install a new outdoor basketball court at Beatty Park on the Near East Side. The court was refurbished years later in continuation of the legacy project.

Between game days, Nationwide Arena hosted a 3v3 championship game, a special presentation to 2018 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Katie Smith and the Columbus Quest of the American Basketball League, fan contests, all-star autograph sessions and band and spirit squad performances.

"It was the best volunteer experience! The organization and attention to detail was amazing. The welcoming Columbus hospitality was everywhere."

- Linda Lucas, Volunteer

Linda was among more than 950 volunteers who filled more than 2,000 shifts at the airport, arena and everywhere in between. Once the local organizing committee inbounded the ball, volunteers took it to the rack.

More than 80% of attendees traveled from out of state. For 60% of people, it was their first time in Columbus. 

Midwestern hospitality showed up in a big way to make everyone feel welcome.

Columbus was the first city to roll out the red carpet for student-athletes, the first to host a Sports ETA Women's Summit and the first to earn the prestigious “Evergreen” certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. Read up on that.

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  • 2008

    Columbus submits an unsuccessful bid to host the Women's Final Four. In the following years, Columbus expanded upon infrastructure that would make Columbus a more attractive destination for future bids.


    Columbus submits a bid to host a Women's Final Four within the 2017-2020 cycle, hosts the NCAA for an official site visit and is announced as a future host city in November.


    Columbus sends a group of community stakeholders to attend the Women's Final Four in Indianapolis to gain closer perspective on the games & ancillary events. 


    Columbus begins grassroots marketing efforts, transforming the NCAA's Beyond the Baseline, a professional development platform, into a five-month speaker series that engages more than 500 women in Central Ohio. Partners spanned local networks with involvement from the YWCA, Women's Fund and Ruling Our Experiences, among other organizations.


    Columbus cuts out the red tape and rolls out the red carpet, becoming a first-time host of the Women's Final Four. In addition to the games and ancillary events, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Convention was the third-highest attended in history at the time. 


    Columbus submits bid to return Women's Final Four within the 2027-2031 cycle, hosts the NCAA for an official site visit and is awarded the 2027 Women's Final Four.

Community Support 

Columbus showed up with a deep bench of financial supporters to make this event a slam dunk.

 "We raised the bar globally with our work on the 2018 Women’s Final Four and embrace the challenge to elevate the event even higher in 2027."

-Linda Logan CEO & President, Greater Columbus Sports Commission 

2027 Women's Final Four