NCAA Releases Statement on Leaked Bracket During CBS' Selection Sunday Special

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2016

FILE - In this March 26, 2014, file photo, Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson dribbles past the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Anaheim, Calif. A federal judge ruled that the NCAA can't stop players from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses, striking down NCAA regulations that prohibit them from getting anything other than scholarships and the cost of attendance at schools. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, Calif., ruled in favor Friday, Aug. 8, of former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon and 19 others in a lawsuit that challenged the NCAA's regulation of college athletics on antitrust grounds. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

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 "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'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:

It isn't the first time something like this has happened. In 2010an 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.