Bob Huggins Says Big Conferences Should Create Their Own College Basketball Post-Season Event, Ditch NCAA Tournament


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As the college landscape changes amid the conference realignment and the future of the NCAA remains in motion, West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins said that it was time for the big conferences to separate themselves from other schools and create their own postseason tournament, so that they could control the sport’s most important financial flow.

“They do it in football,” Huggins told ESPN on Big 12 media day. “Why wouldn’t they do it? Presidents and athletic directors who have all the juice, why wouldn’t they? ? It makes no sense why they wouldn’t do it. I think it’s more ‘Why wouldn’t they do it?’ Than “Why would they do it?” And then, the others, they can have their own. own tournament. “

This is not the first time that the idea has been mentioned. Those who oppose changing the format of the 68-team NCAA tournament in favor of the big schools have often cited the pleasure of seeing the Cinderellas compete with bigger programs.

Huggins, however, said that shouldn’t deter top schools from considering the possibility.

“These Cinderella schools put 200 people, at best, in their gym,” Huggins said. “We’re putting in 14,000.”

Huggins said controlling the postseason tournament is a way for basketball to remain financially relevant going forward, as college football’s influence and footprint continues to grow. He said college basketball income, on many campuses, is used to support football, while the NCAA makes most of its money from its basketball tournament.

In 2016, the NCAA signed an eight-year, $ 8.8 billion extension to 2032 with Turner Sports for the rights to the NCAA men’s tournament. The bulk of the NCAA’s annual revenue is earned through this televised deal. That’s a problem, according to TCU coach Jamie Dixon, who serves as chairman of the board of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“I’m still laughing about the NCAA college basketball tournament and how it doesn’t make sense how the money is dispersed and where it goes,” Dixon told ESPN. “And football has become bigger and the maker of that realignment because of the cash flow. And I don’t know if we’ve done our best with the marketing, promotion and strengthening of basketball because really , the only NCAA goal is to keep this NCAA tournament as their only money winner. “

However, other league coaches have said they are hopeful the NCAA tournament format will stay the same. Texas coach Chris Beard has coached at the junior and mid-major levels during his career. He said the diversity within the tournament is what makes it special.

“I’m one of those guys that I don’t think is a problem with the NCAA tournament,” said Beard, who led Arkansas-Little Rock to the second round in 2016. “I thought 64 was 64. [teams] was good. It’s just, why are we trying to fix something that isn’t broken? These are the three best weeks of sport. And I feel like I can talk about it because I’ve been on all fronts. “

Huggins, however, said officials should think about the future of the sport. He said he worries that college basketball maintains a place at the table as the college structure continues to change and the powers of football gain control over what happens next.

“We have no power because we don’t generate the same kind of TV revenue as football,” Huggins said. “But we’re not trying to do it.”

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