NCAA To Expand to 68 Teams, Fans Breathe Sigh of Relief
They talked about some lofty numbers, but when it came time for the NCAA's Division I Basketball Committee to actually expand the men's basketball tournament, they settled on a much more realistic number: 68.
Adding a mere three games to next year's tournament, the committee unanimously approved the proposal and sent it to the Board of Directors, who will review the proposal for themselves next Thursday.
Only a few weeks ago, the committee was tossing about expanding the number of invited teams to as many as 80 or 96, and the rush to expand this season coincides with a new broadcast deal.
Ideally, the NCAA hoped to expand to as many games as possible in order to secure a much bigger deal, getting all of their games televised.
However, despite the fact that the massive expansion seemed like a foregone conclusion, the networks balked and fans revolted. The NCAA settled for a minor expansion, and chose to spin it as a positive as they inked a new deal with CBS and now, new partner Turner Broadcasting.
NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen had talked extensively about expansion as the deal was discussed, and it seemed that ESPN was looming as a new partner to dispute CBS' long run, but the new deal keeps CBS as the broadcaster of the national championship.
The NCAA's new agreement with CBS and Turner will run from 2011 through 2024. It also means that for the first time, every game next March will be shown live, on either CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV.
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