The NCAA's original employee was among those happy the NCAA tournament only expanded to 68 games.
Wayne Duke, 82, says a 96-team tournament would've been awful "cosmetically," but that's he's not opposed to change. After all, he's been there during other significant expansions, such as when the event went from 32 to 40, then from 40 to 48.
Oddly enough, Duke tells Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, those decisions weren't universally greeted either. According to Wayne, UCLA coach John Wooden and athletic director Wayne Morgan were among those opposing expansion in the 1970s. But the smaller schools loved the moves. From Tipton:
As a committee member (and commissioner of the Big Eight and later the Big Ten conferences), Duke also heard the argument that expanding the tournament would weaken the field.
Duke disagreed and lobbied to extend automatic qualifying bids to more conferences. He recalled the year the Ohio Valley Conference learned it would have a team in every NCAA Tournament.
"I saw this guy lurking in the bushes when I walked out (of the committee meeting room)," Duke said.
That guy, Tennessee Tech President Arliss Roaden, extended a hand as Duke neared.
"Wayne, I want you to know how appreciative we all are for getting the Ohio Valley in the tournament," Roaden said. "An automatic qualifier is just like academic accreditation. It's our athletic accreditation. We belong."
If talk of the 96-team field emerges again, expect complaints and outcry. But it's telling that the arguments against expansion have rarely changed.
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