NCAA Isn't Looking to Expand March Madness Tournament, Says NCAA SVP Dan Gavitt

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2020

Official March Madness 2020 tournament basketballs are seen in a store room at the CHI Health Center Arena, in Omaha, Neb., Monday, March 16, 2020. Omaha was to host a first and second round in the NCAA college basketball Division I tournament, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said Thursday the governing body of college athletics isn't planning to expand the field for the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Jeff Goodman of Stadium reported Wednesday longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski led an effort among ACC coaches to create an "all-inclusive" edition of March Madness that would include all eligible Division I programs next season.

The 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Krzyzewski told Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated why the ACC coaches got together to propose the plan.

"This is not a regular season," he said. "It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative."

Patrick Stevens of the Washington Post analyzed how the all-inclusive tournament could work with 32 host sites serving as "bubbles," similar to those being used by the NBA, NHL and other pro leagues, with two mini-tournaments in each bubble. The winning teams would slot in a traditional 64-team bracket.

In August, however, NCAA President Mark Emmert told the NCAA's official website (h/t ESPN's Jeff Borzello) that trying to plan even a 64-team event could be difficult enough given the circumstances.

"Starting with 64 teams is tough. Thirty-two, OK, maybe that's a manageable number. Sixteen, certainly manageable. But you've got to figure out those logistics," Emmert said. "There's doubtlessly ways to make that work."

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The financial implications are significant for the NCAA.

Andrew Lisa of Yahoo Finance reported March Madness generates $933 million in ad revenue, and the event as a whole makes up approximately 75 percent of the NCAA's overall yearly revenue.

Krzyzewski noted the tournament's crucial role in helping fund college athletics on ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin last month: "We need to have the tournament. We can't have it where two years in a row you don't have the NCAA tournament."

The 2020-21 season would typically start in early November, but no final decision has been made after the major conferences differed in how they handled the college football season.