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Archive for Friday, May 19, 2006

NCAA tourney could grow to 80

May 19, 2006

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There's a chance the NCAA men's basketball tournament could grow from 65 teams to 68 - maybe even 80 - before the end of this decade.

Citing parity in the game, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim - the second vice president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches - has sparked discussion on tourney expansion to the point the tournament committee will address the issue when it meets June 26-30 in Orlando, Fla.

"I would say it certainly deserves discussion," said Kansas University coach Bill Self, a member of the NABC Board of Directors, a group that touched on the matter at its recent annual meeting in Atlanta.

"Our game has been modified over time and it's always turned out to be for the better, whether expanding the tournament (from 53 teams to 64 in 1985; and 64 to 65 in 2001), widening the lane because of Wilt (Chamberlain), adding the three-point line. It all evolved and kept our game moving forward," Self added.

Expansion of the tournament would require NCAA approval and thus probably wouldn't take place before 2009. The current 11-year, $6 billion CBS contract runs through 2013.

"I'm not saying I'm all for it," Self said. "I think it's worthy of discussion with parity - more good teams - than 20 years ago. It (parity) is only going to increase."

As far as the NABC board's position on the matter in Atlanta, "we talked about it briefly," Self said. "What we talked about is it is worth discussion. There were no definites. We just agreed it's worth kicking around in the future. Nothing will happen in the immediate future."

Self doesn't think CBS, which has provided so much money to NCAA institutions through their tournament dollars, will have the only say in the matter.

"It will be a joint deal. Basketball will do what's best for basketball," Self said. "I do know TV obviously has a big part to do with it. This is in infant stages of discussion."

Jim Burson of Muskingum College is president of the NABC board with Clemson's Oliver Purnell first vice president, Boeheim second VP, Kentucky's Tubby Smith third VP and Rice's Willis Wilson fourth VP. Board members are: Self, Pat Kennedy, Towson; Kelvin Sampson, Indiana; Dale Clayton, Carson-Newman; Tom Izzo, Michigan State; Dave Odom, South Carolina; Ernie Kent, Oregon; Dick Davey, Santa Clara; Larry Gipson, Northeastern State; Barry Collier, Nebraska; Page Moir, Roanoke; Phil Martelli, St. Joe's; Ron Hunter, IUPUI; Jeff Jones, American; Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech; Bo Ryan, Wisconsin.

¢ Tucker, Gardner gone: Texas forward P.J. Tucker and Missouri guard Thomas Gardner both have signed with agents and thus will remain in the 2006 NBA Draft and not entertain the possibility of returning to college for their senior campaigns.

"Neither one totally surprises me," Self said. "I do believe this ... without knowing their situation totally, I think they could have helped themselves by coming back. They were good for our league. P.J. was player of the year."

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