Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany Says NCAA Tourney Expansion Is “probable”

Scott McDowellContributor IIApril 1, 2010

The Big Ten desperately continues it’s search for an additional team to expand the conference from 11 to 12 teams for football and basketball competitiveness.

According to Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany, the NCAA won’t have that problem when it expands the men’s basketball tournament from 65 to 96 teams for the 2011 edition of “March Madness.”

Delany, a former chairman of the NCAA basketball committee, used the term “probable” when asked by the USA Today if tournament expansion was likely.

Delany raised concerns that increasing participation in March would take away from the overall meaning of the regular season.

“I’m not looking to see the basketball season made less relevant because we do an expansion without knowing a lot about this,” he told The Sporting News in February.

The NCAA can opt out of its current broadcast contract with CBS after Jennifer Hudson finishes her last note of “One Shining Moment” this year, which still has three years, $2.131 billion remaining, of an original 11-year, $6 billion contract.

There are rumors that the NCAA will opt out of the contract and ESPN will put up the highest bid to own the broadcast rights.

Several high profile coaches including Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, and Jay Wright, have publicly supported giving more schools a chance to play in the “Big Dance”. Duke’s “Coach K” proposes combining the NIT and NCAA Tournament, while Villanova’s Wright noted that the current system allows only 65 of 344 Division 1 teams a chance at the title.

While some will argue allowing more teams into the tourney is fair for the student-athletes, the obvious reasons are money and profitability.

“The opportunity to decide what’s going to happen with our revenue is a big deal,” Greg Shaheen, the senior vice president for basketball and business strategies with the NCAA, told The New York Times earlier this month. “It’s what a lot of institutions rely on for their athletic programs. That’s a centerpiece to why all this happens. It’s easy to say you don’t want change. But simply put, it’s what’s appropriate to operate in our best interest.”

The next meeting of the NCAA board will take place in Indianapolis on April 21.

With the competitiveness of this year’s NCAA Tournament and teams like Butler and Northern Iowa proving they can play with the big boys, why fix something that ain’t broke? Adding 31 extra teams will dilute the competition level and just make the previous 5 months of regular season games less important.

Why bother even having the conference tournaments anymore?

The most embarrassing thing will be seeing teams with 17-15 records in the “lock” category during tournament forecasting.

Even the autistic kid will be out of the running for the perfect bracket by the time the second round rolls around.

Joe Lunardi? You can find a new job buddy. Anyone with a winning record will receive a chance to play now. Your “bracketology” days are over. Anyone with a brain and wireless internet connection can figure out the NCAA field, even at 65.

This also brings up an interesting discussion with college football postseason play(which we will debate more in the Fall).

The NCAA says it does not favor playoffs in college football because it will take away from student-athlete academics.

First of all, the tournament would likely be in mid-December to mid-January, which falls when most schools are on Winter break, and secondly, the men’s basketball tournament falls during the middle of the semester, causing the athletes to miss valuable class time.

Creating more games will only increase missed class time for basketball players.

With these scenarios, the NCAA basically says “we want the football players in class, but we don’t care if the basketball players miss class, as long as it means more money for us.”

The NCAA is creating a mess for itself. How long is it before it backfires?