SBD/Issue 59/Sports Media

NCAA Considering Men's B'Ball Tourney Expansion, Move To Cable

NCAA Meeting With Broadcasters To Explore
Media Value Of Expanding Tourney Field
The NCAA has "started meeting with broadcasters to explore the media value of expanding the men's basketball tournament field," according to sources cited by Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. As part of that process, the NCAA also is "gauging the feasibility of moving the tournament from broadcast to cable." NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen is "leading the exploration with assists from a pair of well-known college media consultants," former Turner Sports Senior VP Kevin O'Malley and former ABC/ESPN Exec VP/Collegiate Sports Chuck Gerber. The three have been "contacting several broadcast and cable networks to judge interest in bidding for the basketball tournament." The NCAA is "talking with TV networks about whether they are interested in the tournament as is." The idea discussed with networks would likely take the tournament "from its current field of 65 teams to 96 teams and add another week to the competition, with the top 32 teams receiving byes." The move "has been characterized as folding the NIT into the NCAA tournament." Ourand & Smith note the NCAA is "not committed to making any changes," and CBS is "expected to move aggressively to keep the tournament." A source said that these talks mark the "beginning of a process that will conclude in summer 2010, at the earliest" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue).

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