For those not keeping up with daily sports rumor news, the NCAA is reportedly considering the expansion of the tournament to 96 teams as early as 2010-2011.
This rumor has picked up steam throughout the day today and now seems to be at a flash point. The first outlet to report the possible expansion of the tournament, as far as we can tell, was Sports by Brooks, a sporting celebrity news site similar to Deadspin. That may damage the credibility of the story, but it certainly doesn’t make the chance for expansion or the discussion of it go away.
Here’s some excerpts from the Sports by Brooks story.
Sources at ESPN and inside the administration at a powerhouse NCAA basketball school told me today that the NCAA basketball tournament going to 96 teams is a “done deal.”
An ESPN source said, “It’s a done deal with the expansion of the tournament. Depending on how soon a (TV) deal is done, the added teams could start next year. The NCAA confirmed that bidders would be interested in 96 teams, so they’re going with it.”
Another ESPN source confirmed to me that the network was in the formative stages of pondering a bid for the expanded tournament.
Brooks gives his opinion of expansion later in his post.
I’m one of those guys who lightly follows the regular season but loves the postseason tournament. Going to 96 teams will render the regular season even more meaningless and I’m not so sure that March Madness will be as fervently embraced with the dilution of the field and added number of games. Like my bracket isn’t big enough already?
If they’re going to go to 96 teams, why not just make the whole season a double elimination tournament?
And if the NCAA is going to drag out the hoops tournament even more, causing players to miss more class, how can it continue to justify not having a college football playoff?
Someone needs to check the water in Indianapolis. Might wanna consider a boil warning.
Brooks posted a follow-up this evening along with other links about the issue.
The Sports Business Journal also had a story regarding the possibility of expansion that focused more on the TV side of the argument.
CBS and Turner Sports are in discussions to create a joint bid for the NCAA tournament rights if the NCAA decides to opt out of its current CBS deal.
The broadcaster and cable network could share rights to the tournament if the NCAA decides to expand the field to 96 teams. In that scenario, the channel broadcasting the Final Four would pay 60 percent of the annual rights fee and the other network would pay 40 percent. The broadcast partners would alternate coverage of the Final Four each year.
Other networks, including ESPN and Fox, also are considering making bids for the tournament’s rights.
The broadcasters are basing their bids on an expanded tournament field, according to a request for proposal issued by the NCAA to potential bidders late last year. A copy of the RFP was obtained by SportsBusiness Journal.
The NCAA has its sights set on expanding from a 65-team tournament to either 68 or 96 teams if it opts out of the CBS contract, according to the 12-page RFP.
Aside from allowing 32 mediocre teams the chance to extend their seasons following conference tournaments, I can’t think of a single positive for expansion. More games does mean more TV exposure, but who is going to watch a No. 1 seed like Kansas play a mediocre mid-major or a team from the bottom half of a bigger conference? Does a 6-10 team from the ACC honestly deserve a chance to play for the National Championship?
This episode is yet another example of the money hungry attitude of the NCAA. It’s a shame that the desire to make money overpowers the integrity of the sport.