French Revolution In Offing For NCAA Monarchy?

On Feb. 1, I was told by a prominent network television executive that the NCAA had approached CBS, ESPN and other network television outlets about expanding the NCAA basketball tournament to 96 teams. The idea, if executed, would have an enormous impact on NCAA members schools that supply the teams for the billion-dollar enterprise.

NCAA Facing French Revolution

After I broke the news, I was amazed to find out that the Athletic Director who runs the most profitable university athletic department in the NCAA, DeLoss Dodds at the University of Texas, had no idea that the NCAA was considering expanding the men’s basketball tournament to 96 teams.

The day after I published my piece, USA TODAY reported that Dodds said of March Madness expansion:

“If they’re having discussions about those things, they should be more public and more open so people can weigh in on what the issues are and what the benefits are and what the downsides are.

“I don’t know their process, but their process seems to be pretty hidden.”

Probably the most powerful man in collegiate athletics outside of Indianapolis, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, voiced similar concerns to SportingNews.com on Feb. 2:

“I’m not looking to see the basketball season made less relevant because we do an expansion without knowing a lot about this.”

On March 30 Delany, who chaired the committee that oversaw the NCAA’s expansion to a 64-team men’s NCAA basketball tournament, told USA Today that an expansion to 96 teams was “probable.”

Last week the NCAA announced it would not be expanding to 96 teams - for now.

So perhaps the two most powerful men in collegiate athletics not under the employ of the NCAA or a television network, Jim Delany and DeLoss Dodds, were completely out of the loop on the NCAA’s 96-team expansion plan.

NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen, who oversees the men’s basketball tournament, gives a clue to USA Today why Dodds and Delany weren’t in the loop:

Countering those concerns, Shaheen says the late NCAA President Myles Brand kept university presidents on NCAA boards informed “for several years” of the association’s study of the issue, including the potential for tournament expansion.

Translation: The 18 university presidents on the NCAA Board of Directors knew what was going on, along with Shaheen, his NCAA interoffice associates and network TV execs. That’s it. And those individuals have the power to do whatever they want, including expanding the tournament to 96 teams without the consultation of anyone.

So Dodds and Delany, who are among those most responsible for creating the revenue that justifies the very existence of the NCAA, have absolutely no say on an issue that could have an enormous financial impact on all NCAA schools.

Now, think about who the central figures are in those super conference talks you’ve been hearing about.

Dodds and Delany. Read more…