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NO DEBATE FOR THE GREAT EIGHT; TOURNEY APPEARS TO BE HISTORY
Published December 9, 1999
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).