The NCAA released a statement Sunday after the bracket for the 2016 men's college basketball tournament was leaked on social media before the official reveal of the full field during CBS' selection show.
"We go through great lengths to prevent the tournament field from being revealed early and the NCAA took its usual measures to protect this from happening," the statement read, per Jill Martin of CNN.com. "Unfortunately, and regrettably, the bracket was revealed prior to our broadcast partners having the opportunity to finish unveiling it. We take this matter seriously and we are looking into it."
This kind of situation has become familiar during the NBA and NFL drafts, as industry insiders report on draft selections before they're announced. The NFL attempted to clamp down on the tactic last year, while only ESPN reporters were given the luxury during the NBA draft.
In this instance, the leaked bracket turned out to be 100 percent correct.
It created an odd situation for the schools that had hopes of being included in the 68-team field. According to MLive.com's Brendan F. Quinn, the Michigan Wolverines were aware of their seeding before it was announced. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn reported others were using the leak to their advantage:
Luke Winn @lukewinn
Teams yet to be announced seem to be accepting the bracket leak as legit, per a few texts. Already studying their leaked opponents.3/13/2016, 10:26:55 PM
It isn't the first time something like this has happened. In 2010, an Internet user released information about top seeds and schools sitting on the bubble.
In a 2014 article, Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports discussed some of the security measures in place:
CBS typically receives the bracket from an NCAA staffer about 30 minutes before the selection show airs, but its staff is just as careful to minimize the chance of leaks once it arrives. The email with the bracket is password-protected and only a limited number of on-air and behind-the-scenes employees have access.
"We have to be that tight," said Harold Bryant, executive producer and vice president of production at CBS Sports. "Especially nowadays, it's such an information world and it's so immediate. Our security antennas are up even more just to make sure we keep everything confidential until it's time to be revealed."
While the leak provided headaches for both the NCAA and CBS, it won't have an effect on the tournament. If anything, the only consequence will likely be CBS tightening up its security next year to ensure a similar incident doesn't occur.
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