Proposed NCAA changes to help KSU

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We’ve all heard the news of late about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In fact, since the tournament ended we have heard nothing but talk about the future of the tournament. Will players leave their schools and go pro? Will they stay? But most importantly, will the NCAA change the format of its tournament?

According to a press release from the NCAA, “The NCAA announced a new 14-year television, Internet and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., to present the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning in 2011 through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion. As part of the agreement, all games will be shown live across four national networks beginning in 2011 — a first for the 73-year-old championship.”

This deal and the entire negotiating standpoint are about the expansion of the tournament from its current 65-team bracket. Originally, it was thought the tournament might expand to a 96-team bracket, which would have vastly increased the size and duration of the tournament. Eventually, a compromise was made and three teams were added to the field, making it a 68-team tournament. This expansion all boils down to revenues.

It appears the NCAA wanted to boost its revenues and look at getting out of its current contract with CBS. The NCAA thought revenues would increase substantially following a large expansion, but it found the actual rights fees would be greatest with a more moderate expansion.

It is possible that not only has the NCAA made an important change that will hopefully draw more funding to the conferences and schools, but also that the change will be received as the right one and not be overly criticized by a happier general audience.

As part of the deal, CBS and Turner Broadcasting will air basketball games through the tournament on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. It is projected, according to the NCAA press release, that 96 percent of the new revenues generated will directly benefit the student athletes.

All of this comes as the NCAA welcomes Mark Emmert from the University of Washington as its new president. The organization could be looking at a number of changes in the near future. It is a complex time to be new in the NCAA.

Our own athletic leaders are in favor of the expansion. Athletics Director John Currie addressed the situation to the Wildcat faithful in an e-mail a couple weeks ago: “…after spending much time over the last few months analyzing the options and viewing different presentations, I believe the slight expansion to the 68-team field is the right step. It is also great to have a broadcast partner like Turner getting more involved in the college sports world.”

Whether the situation proceeds is up to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, whose meeting was held on yesterday.

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