View Full Version : OT - Interesting article on ESPN's influence on preseason tournaments

11-25-2009, 10:04 AM

On a week when we can be thankful that ESPN networks are televising more than 50 hours of college basketball, let us consider the way this came about. In January 2006, the NCAA made two moves that it knew would precipitate a boom in the number of early-season tournaments, or "multi-team events," on the November-December landscape. It repealed the "two-in-four" rule that kept teams from playing in multi-team events more than twice in any four-year span, and, in a less-publicized rule change, eliminated the events' certification process, which had required operators to provide detailed financial information to the NCAA and have the school or conference sponsoring the event be responsible for selecting the field. The explosion in multi-team events (the attraction of which is that a team gets to play up to four extra games on top of the NCAA's 27-game base) initially happened, with the number of tournaments surging from 35 in 2005 to 58 by 2006. But it has since subsided: By SI's count, there are only 35 in 2009. Ultimately, the rule changes' effect wasn't to increase the quantity of multi-team events -- it was to empower the dominant cable television network in college basketball, which was freed to create its own programming without the NCAA's financial supervision.

11-25-2009, 01:05 PM
Speaking as an Alaska resident, I wish this issue would get more coverage nationally. I had a feeling when the Zags played up here 2 years ago that it might be the last time we'd see them up here. Coach Few was quoted as saying they would be playing in ESPN preseason tournaments in the future because the Shootout wasn't going to be televised, except for the championship game. I really do think that ESPN is very close to achieving a monopoly on preseason tournaments.

I liked this quote from Jeff Capel:

"It was such a big deal back then," says Capel, who has plans to take his Sooners to Maui next year, and ESPN tournaments the two following seasons. "But what I think happened is, ESPN kind of seized the chance to have a monopoly on these events. It's a good business move for them, but I feel bad. ... The [Shootout] was well-attended when I was there, and if you're a historian of the game, what you normally think of as the start of the season is Maui and the Great Alaska Shootout. But it's like what happens with everything -- corporations come in and take over."

I always thought of Maui and the GAS as the beginning of the season as well.

The Shootout has a decent field this year but who knows what it will be next year, or in the future. Last year the field was pretty mediocre. It could go defunct, the way things are going.

11-25-2009, 01:15 PM
In an article (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/nov/25/grier-returns-to-familiar-frontier/), referenced in another thread (http://guboards.spokesmanreview.com/showthread.php?t=23947), Bill Grier, who has USD in the GAS, talks about how difficult it's been to fill the field at the GAS since the rule changes.

11-25-2009, 03:17 PM
Bitter is a good starting point.

This year's GAS was on the brink of being canceled until they inked Nicholls State ... in July, as the sixth team (instead of the traditional eight). One thing that has helped the GAS, is that they piggybacked their women's tournament (formerly the Northern Lights Challenge) into the same week.

That UAA believes that they will rebound to field a full (eight-team) field next year, leads me to believe that the last minute involvement with Fox for this year, might very well be expanded in 2010.

UAA has had to jump through hoops for decades to pull off the tournament, yelping all the way. The fight is nothing new.

11-25-2009, 03:26 PM
I'm so confused about ESPN. I love it. I hate it.

On the one hand, their content, their branding, their anchors, their production quality... all so good.

OTOH, their influence on rankings, on quality of competition, their monopolization of the marketplace... all so evil.

Just add this to the "OTOH" column.

11-25-2009, 03:33 PM
It's a Faust thing.