NCAA approves tournament expansion

Also, University of Washington President takes top spot at NCAA.

by Michael Rietmulder

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a recommendation to expand the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament Thursday by three teams. Beginning next year, the tournament will grow from 65 teams to 68 and feature four play-in games, one in each region. James Barker , the boardâÄôs chair and president of Clemson University , said in a release that the additional teams will enhance the opening round, which has featured only one play-in game since 2001 when a 65th team was added. âÄúExpansion enables us to give more exposure to the universities and provide more opportunities for student-athletes,âÄù Barker said in the release. The board’s approval comes one week after the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee recommended the expansion and the NCAA announced a new 14-year, $10.8 billion broadcasting deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting . The new deal will feature every game televised live on either CBS or one of Turner’s various stations. The board charged the menâÄôs basketball committee âÄî which selects the tournamentâÄôs participants âÄî the task of determining how to best implement the expansion. The committee will take fairness, travel, team placement and class schedules into consideration when determining the location and times of the opening round games. In other NCAA news, the association named University of Washington President Mark Emmert its new president Tuesday evening, after final interviews were conducted earlier in the day. Emmert will officially take the reins on Nov. 1 from interim President Jim Isch , who assumed the role after the passing of former President Myles Brand in September 2009. âÄúIntercollegiate athletics is an integral part of the educational experiences of more than 400,000 students across the country,âÄù Emmert said at Tuesday’s press conference. âÄúIt’s incumbent upon the NCAA to make sure that those experiences are ones that serve the interests, first and foremost, of the student-athletes, and to provide them with the opportunities to excel with great enthusiasm in performance in fields that they care about.âÄù Emmert was introduced by Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University and chair of the search committee which selected Emmert. Ray said he was pleased that Emmert, who was selected out of a pool of nearly 100 candidates, will âÄúbring his considerable talentsâÄù to the NCAA. Emmert has been president at his alma mater Washington since 2004. He called his new position a âÄúnatural extensionâÄù of what heâÄôs been doing for the last 30 years. Prior to coming to Washington, he served as chancellor at Louisiana State University from 1999 to 2004. One of the major issues facing the NCAAâÄôs member institutions is a perceived spending crisis in intercollegiate athletics. Emmert said during a Wednesday teleconference that schools will have to find budgetary solutions individually, but added that the NCAA can help provide presidents with information and suggestions about cost containment. âÄúThe role of the NCAA in overseeing or constraining budgets is a highly limited role and weâÄôll have to use the bully pulpit and our ability to discuss these issues and provide leadership with the presidents,âÄù Emmert said.