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NCAA/NIT Conspiracy Theories

Posted by Jer on March 14, 2007

Was Syracuse’s snub from the NCAA tournament a bigger conspiracy than Watergate and the JFK assassination? Ok, probably not, but let’s revisit the possibility for a moment.

It has been rightfully noted that the three most suspect programs making the NCAA tournament (Arkansas, Illinois, and Stanford) had representation from their conferences on the Selection Committee, while the top schools excluded from the NCAA’s had no one to speak on their behalf. It’s very easy to imagine that if Mike Tranghese were on the Committee this year instead of the SEC Commissioner, Syracuse would be headed to the NCAA’s, while South Alabama would be visiting a Fayetteville that is much closer and warmer than our suburban paradise.

The fact that no one was there to stand up for Syracuse this year can be attributed fully to bad timing, as the Big East will assuredly have a member next year, and, although boosterism is annoying, it does not contsitute a conspiracy. (it should be noted that Tranghese was stunned that Syracuse did not receive a bid, but also publically believes this does not have anything to do with the lack of BE representation).

But let’s dig deeper (as my high school journalism teacher always called on us to do). Phil Sheridan at the Philadelphia Inquirer has pointed out where the true roots of the NCAA conspiracy may lie (thanks to JR for passing this along). Two years ago, the NIT brought an anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA for their requirement that any school picked for the NCAA tournament accept that invitation. So what did the NCAA do? They bought the NIT!

In his article, Sheridan points out:

Now the NCAA has incentive to make sure some attractive teams are available for the NIT field. The committee can’t get away with sending Wisconsin and Pittsburgh to the NIT — even Dick Vitale would figure that scam out — but it can send a few big programs from a few big markets.

Drexel and Syracuse, Kansas State and Florida State. They will draw crowds and decent TV ratings to their NIT games.

Now that the NCAA owns the NIT, are they intentionally excluding a few big market bubble teams so that the NIT can benefit from added exposure? Since the Committee members are conference and school representatives and not NCAA executives, covert manipulation of the tournaments seems less likely, but it’s hard to know what decisions are made in the interest of marketing and profit. After all, USA Today reported during the anti-trust trial that “it was revealed the NIT’s contract with ESPN gives the network the right to ‘jointly’ choose tournament teams and schedules”. If the NIT previously chose their field based partially on financial interests, do you think it’s beyond imagination that the NCAA would do the same?

After all, it’s much more reassuring to think that Syracuse is the victim of a multifaceted corporate conspiracy rather than accept that it may have more to do with mediocre play against the likes St. John’s and U-Conn.

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2 Responses to “NCAA/NIT Conspiracy Theories”

  1. Honestly…is it THAT far-fetched? If nothing else, I’m sure it makes it easier for the committee to snub someone like Syracuse because they profit off the NIT as well. And if we make it to the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden, where we notoriously pull in large crowds…what a bonus!

    To voice your disdain, the answer is…don’t buy NCAA-sanctioned merchandise. It’s not like that money’s going to the athlete whose jersey or photo you’re purchasing anyway.

  2. […] stand: I have not, and will not fill out an NCAA bracket this year. I absolutely buy the conspiracy theory that Jer spells out about the NCAA/NIT conglomerate needing some big name teams in the NIT for attendance and ratings. […]

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