PR in Sports

Looking at the World of Sports from a PR Perspecitve

Posts Tagged ‘NCAA

Expanding The NCAA Tournament Without Destorying The Current Format

with 10 comments

Apparently expanding the greatest tournament on Earth is almost a done deal. According the Sports by Brooks, sources at ESPN say the NCAA basketball tournament expanding to 96 teams is a “done deal”. Many fans of college basketball, analysts and those in the game feel adding 30 teams to March Madness is a horrible idea. Why mess with something that clearly isn’t broken, especially when the NCAA is catching heat every year regarding the mess that is the college football bowl system.

Normally I’d be getting into the PR ramifications of this decision, but when speaking of the NCAA that could really be an entire series of posts. PR isn’t exactly their forte. So instead, as a lifelong college basketball fan, I simply want to give my idea to expand the tournament without destroying the current format, but while also increasing publicity and revenue for the NCAA.

I’ve always had the following idea about the play-in game, and through discussions with friends, other college basketball fans and on #SportsPRChat on Twitter it has evolved.  I’m not sure if anyone else has proposed this, but I’ve always felt the play-in game was a decent idea, just horribly executed. First, why should two teams that earned automatic bids have to participate in a play-in game? Second, why do I want to watch two of the worst teams in the field play for the right to get trounced by the likes of North Carolina, Kansas or Duke? There’s zero excitement.

I propose we expand the tournament from 64 to 68 teams by adding three additional play-in games. The change is that the now four play-in games would be between the last four at-large teams in the tournament and the last four out of the tournament. The winners of the four games will then be slotted into the four #12 seed positions. This results in far more exposure, publicity and revenue for the play-in games.

This season for example, instead of watching two small conference teams battle it out to get trounced by Kansas or Kentucky, we could see eight BCS or talented mid-major teams fight it out. Going by ESPN.com Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, with this idea, the Tuesday before the official tournament kicks-off we’d potentially see Maryland vs. Wichita St., Old Dominion vs. Marquette, Cincinnati vs. Seton Hall and Connecticut vs. Louisville.

Who wouldn’t want to watch those teams fight it out for a chance to be an upset special in the Big Dance? Almost every year there’s a #12 seed that makes a run in the tournament.

This might not add as much revenue as the NCAA is looking for, but as mentioned it adds more excitement. The four play-in games would be far more interesting. It wouldn’t render the regular season basically irrelevant, like adding 30 more teams would do, and it wouldn’t minimize the anticipation and excitement of the current first round.

This would probably only slow the move to 96 teams, but I think this change to the play-in system would be a good one even if they don’t expand the tournament. Either way, I’d love to hear thoughts on this idea, or any other ideas on how to improve the tournament in the comments below.

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Written by Brian Gleason

February 3, 2010 at 12:25 am

Should NCAA Athletes Play for Pay?

with 8 comments

Ah yes, March Madness is upon us! One of my favorite times of the year, but along with exciting college basketball, we can certainly expect a heavy dose of ‘should college athletes get paid’ commentary. This is always a hot topic with strong opinions from those in sports and academics, and I came across an interesting article in the Indianapolis Star from long-time columnist Bob Kravitz on this exact topic.

His basic premise is ‘lets make college sports a real minor league.’ His theory is that a scholarship athlete should have a choice, accept the scholarship and become a student-athlete, or turn down the scholarship and get paid $25,000 per year by the college, with no academic obligations. He argues that most likely only 3-4 athletes a year, between football and basketball, would accept the pay.

Kravitz does raise some interesting questions, and his is one of the more creative ideas that I’ve heard on this topic, but also one of the most unrealistic. It would be a PR disaster for the NCAA to announce they’re going to pay college athletes, but those athletes wouldn’t have to remain eligible or attend a single class for that matter. This would especially be an issue for public universities funded by the tax-payer.

I honestly can’t think of a single way that the NCAA could justify this to the public, and I’m unsure how Kravitz can pass this as a plausible solution. There’s no doubt that the NCAA and their member institutions are making millions, even billions, from football and basketball, but turning them into a quasi minor league is not the solution.

Basketball is really the sport with the issue, since football players can’t leave for the NFL until they’re three years removed from high school. I’m not for college athletes getting paid, I’ve always thought the scholarship was payment enough, but the NBA and NCAA need to figure something out. The 1 and done system has some serious flaws. The 1 and done basketball player literally has no incentive to attend class, especially not in the second semester.

I think the road we’re headed down is the NBA turning the NBDL into a true minor league, with each team having the their own affiliate. The NBA would then go back to allowing players to jump directly from high school, but any athlete choosing the NCAA would be required to stay somewhere between 2-3 years.

According to “point 3” of the Weekend Dime on espn.com last weekend, the NBA is already in the process of moving the NBDL to a more baseball-style minor league system. The issue is that some NBA teams are willing to absorb the cost of basketball operations for their affiliate, but not the business costs. This may have to wait for the economy to turn before becoming a viable solution.

But, I think that is the best solution for the NBA, NCAA and preserving the term “student-athlete”, but I’m interested to hear others opinions/ideas on this. Do you think Kravitz has a plan here? Do you have another solution?

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 9, 2009 at 1:53 am

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