SBD/9/Collegiate Sports

NO DEBATE FOR THE GREAT EIGHT; TOURNEY APPEARS TO BE HISTORY

          Bulls VP/Marketing Steve Schanwald, the "point man for
     promoting" the Chicago-based Great Eight men's college
     basketball tournament, yesterday "declared" the tournament
     "dead ... after seeing the empty seats" at the United
     Center, according to Greg Couch of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. 
     Attendance yesterday was 13,463, after 13,127 attended
     Tuesday at the 21,711-seat arena.  However, event co-sponsor
     ESPN is "less pessimistic" about losing the event, as its
     spokesperson Josh Krulewitz said, "We're hopeful, and
     getting a field like this in December is a home run for
     college basketball" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/9). In Chicago,
     Jay Mariotti wrote that "losing the event only adds to"
     ESPN's recent "losing streak" with "a failure to land NASCAR
     rights and a forced deal with" MLB (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES,
     12/8).  In Chicago, Paul Ladewski wrote that with the NCAA
     exploring rule changes to early-season tournaments, teams
     are "almost certain to accept invitations to the more
     lucrative" Great Alaskan Shootout or Maui Invitational in
     the future.  Schanwald, on the six-year old Great Eight:
     "This is it.  It's disappointing because this is as good as
     it gets for college basketball" (DAILY SOUTHTOWN, 12/8).  
          IS ESPN TO BLAME? SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Seth Davis
     questions the selection of some schools at the Great Eight
     tournament and writes that the event "isn't just for TV, it
     is made by TV."  More Davis: "ESPN likes to boast that it
     provides a national stage for little-known teams, and often
     it does.  Just as often, however, it helps the rich get
     richer."  Davis notes that while the event is supposed to
     feature the "Elite Eight" teams from the previous year's
     NCAA tournament, the Univ. of KS has appeared in four of the
     past five Great Eight tournaments despite advancing just
     once to the NCAA Tournament's "Elite Eight" (SI, 12/13). 

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