SBD/December 8, 2010/Collegiate Sports

NCAA Execs Show Little Support For Expanding Postseason Events

Scott, Delany And Slive (l-r) Discuss Adding Plus-One Football Game, Expanding Tourney
Do not look for the NCAA or BCS to expand their postseason events any time soon, judging from the comments from college sports’ top execs speaking at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum hosted by SBD/SBJ in N.Y. NCAA President Mark Emmert said he likes the 68-team basketball format, adding, "We're going to do that, probably, for a very long time.” Last year, the NCAA had looked into expanding the tournament to 96 teams, before settling on 68. Similarly, most of the biggest conference commissioners were united in saying that they did not want to pursue a plus-1 format that would add a championship game in college football. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany warned that the plus-1 format would lead to a slippery slope, where conference commissioners would not be able to stop further expansion. “Take a look at regular-season basketball,” he said, adding that the expanded tournament has devalued the regular season. "One leads to four, and four leads to eight. You won't be able to stop it." Delany said his position has nothing to do with money, saying a playoff system would make more money than the current system. “But it's not always about the money,” he said. Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe agreed, adding that the current system already puts a lot of pressure on the players. "It would be a huge disservice to players to add games." The main voice of dissent came from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who said he would support a four-game playoff, but admitted, “I expect I’m going to be a lonely voice on this again.”

: Delany and WAC Commissioner Karl Benson traded some jabs on the panel. Benson wants a system that allows smaller schools to compete more effectively. “There’s definitely a hierarchy in these conferences,” he said. “I have to look out for my members. It’s a business.” Delany responded that he was suffering from “BCS defense fatigue.” Delany: "The fewer successful pieces [a conference has], the more they want the group to come together." Delany clearly was the elder statesman on the panel. Benson and Big East Commissioner John Marinatto each expressed relief that Delany said he had no plans to expand his conference for the time being. “Twelve will probably be the model,” Delany said. In a moment of levity, Beebe, whose conference was raided by the Big Ten and Pac-10 earlier this year, referred to Delany and the Pac-10’s Larry Scott as “predators,” laughingly adding, "I won't put them in a headlock yet."

: During a one-on-one interview to open the conference, Emmert said the money that comes in through college football helps support the non-revenue collegiate sports. "Our job is to educate young people while giving them a great experience on and off the field,” he said. “If you want to support women's gymnastics … it comes from the money that gets recycled to them from the football program." Emmert said he was satisfied with his decision on Auburn QB Cam Newton’s eligibility, but allowed that “we probably need to make some rule changes" to deal with these situations more effectively. He unequivocally said that college athletes will not be paid under his watch. "As long as I'm president of NCAA, we will not pay student athletes to play sports." And he lamented, "I'm treated as if I'm commissioner of baseball who can act in an authoritarian manner. That's not the case."
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