Who doesn't love the NCAA tournament?
That 96-team NCAA tournament is one step closer to a reality.
Shrug off this Sports by Brooks report if you choose, but a 96-team tourney means more money. And if you doubt the NCAA will opt for more money, well, we should talk. There are things you should know.
Besides, this story from Sports Business Journal details discussions the networks are having about how they'd handle an expanded tournament. And it's not just ESPN doing the talking. From the story:
CBS and Turner Sports are in discussions to create a joint bid for the NCAA tournament rights if the NCAA decides to opt out of its current CBS deal.
The broadcaster and cable network could share rights to the tournament if the NCAA decides to expand the field to 96 teams. In that scenario, the channel broadcasting the Final Four would pay 60 percent of the annual rights fee and the other network would pay 40 percent. The broadcast partners would alternate coverage of the Final Four each year.
Still, not all of it relates to a 96-team field. Some proposals relate to only adding three teams, but all of it considers added inventory. That extra inventory (read: more games) is the whole reason why the NCAA would opt out of the remaining $2.131 on its 11-year, $6 billion deal.
The NCAA isn't saying much, other than networks are lining up to pony up big bucks and isn't ruling anything out.
"There continues to be dialogue with a number of entities that are interested in submitting a proposal," he said, but no time frame has been established. Shaheen has said that the NCAA is doing due diligence to explore alternative tournament formats, but it is not leaning in any direction.
In other words, if the price is right, additional games are coming. A lot of games.
UPDATE: FOXSports's Jeff Goodman talked to Shaheen, who denied the report, but didn't rule it out, either.
"We are looking into all the possibilities," Shaheen told Goodman. "We have to look into it, but we don't even know if we'd do it. Just because we're checking into it doesn't mean we're going to do it."
"We have to assess everything," he added. "Have we talked to people in our membership about expanding? Absolutely."
Far more interesting is Goodman's report that sources have told him there is talk about ditching the NIT (whose contract with the tourney expires at the end of the season) and folding 31 of those teams into the NCAA tournament.
That kind of thinking was merely speculation before. Now it sounds like the NCAA is headed that direction.
Mike Miller's also on Twitter, talking college hoops.