Now that spring is here and the weather has improved over much of the country, we’d like to announce that grilling season officially kicked off today in Indianapolis, but probably not in the way you’re thinking.
The president of the NCAA and/or some other high-ups has always made it a point to take some time on the Thursday or Friday preceding the Final Four to have a press conference to talk about the NCAA Tournament in general and the tournament specific to that year. This little get-together happened today in Indy. The media got the chance to hear from Dan Guerrero, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee; Kevin Lennon, VP for academic and membership affairs; and one Greg Shaheen, the NCAA’s senior VP for basketball and business strategies.
RIGHT HERE is the transcript of this press conference.
IMPORTANT: Listen, we post a lot of links on this site. We want you to click every one of them. We wouldn’t put them up there if we didn’t think it would enhance your enjoyment or understanding of a story or article. But YOU MUST CLICK ON THAT LINK if you want to get a glimpse into the minds of the people who are trying to change the greatest sporting event in the world, the people who want to increase the number of teams in the NCAA Tournament from 65 to 96.
Before you do that, we need to make sure you understand something — this thing is happening. The 96-team tournament isn’t something that’s just being discussed, anymore. This press conference wasn’t an official announcement, but it was everything but that. We don’t like it any more than you do, but we might as well get used to it. We know why they’re doing it. Like Joe Pesci said in Casino:
“Always the dollars. Always the f***in’ dollars…”
You see, the NCAA has to make a decision this summer. Their current college basketball contract with CBS runs through 2013, but states that the NCAA can opt out of the deal by the end of this July to go searching for a better deal, meaning more money. The current contract with CBS was finalized in 1999 and is worth about $6 billion. It also applies to a 65-team tournament. If they opt out, the NCAA can do whatever it wants to the tournament and market the new version (like, say, one with 96 teams) as their new product as they negotiate for even bigger bucks. They could even renegotiate with CBS (we wonder if CBS also sees possible bigger profits and actually wants the NCAA to opt out of this thing).
Back to this press conference. Here’s a little rundown of what happened. First, Mr. Guerrero took the mic, and to be honest you really don’t have to read his short introduction. He said very little and then introduced Mr. Lennon. Lennon’s portion is quite interesting, because he used his time to tell everyone about the improved graduation and retention rates among student-athletes, specifically men’s basketball players. He noted that student-athletes in ALL sports, and “certainly men’s basketball, are continuing to outperform the student body” as a whole. Sounds good.
Then came Mr. Shaheen’s turn. That’s when it got interesting.