Division 1 College Basketball: A Full-time Job

Season is up to 40 Games and 4.5 Months Long…
It’s time to pare it back a bit.

Has the season become too long? From early November through Mid April. It Must be the money…We have extended conference season (more games) and the post season conference tourneys (more money). Adding the conference tourneys AND staggering the BCSer’s tourneys a week later, has added another 2 weeks prior to Selection Sunday, then finally the NCAA/NIT and CBI 3 week grind.

Now we have begun to extend the front end more with the summer and early fall foreign trips and moved up the season start to early November with the exempt tourneys. That is four and one-half months for the college basketball season. Soon we will be doing an NBA-type schedule. These NCAA moves – increasing the number of games/lengthening the season are all spurred by greed for increasingly larger amounts of basketball revenues.

We have seen escalating NCAA and member contracts – TV, Cable, & Radio dollars, Marketing dollars, Ticket Revenues, Ancillary Svcs (Concessions-Parking, Point-of-Purchase spot marketing, Direct Mail & Internet marketing.). Were it not for the current recession and increases in fuel and travel costs, we might not have seen the current discussions on possible changes to the NCAA Tourney format. The US economic downturn seems to be the only thing capable of putting the brakes on the NCAA Money Machine.

Generally, in the past, a 25-32 game season was the rule…including the NCAA/NIT tourneys. There were exceptions (Ore – 1939, UK -1948, MSU – 1979, others), but this ‘ceiling’ appeared to last until the early eighties. Total numbers of games have continued to creep upwards over the last quarter century.

In 1979 – Bird & Company went 31-1 after finishing as the Nat’l Runnerup.
Last year Memphis played 38 games, as Runnerup. Champion KU played 40. Florida, the 2006 Champ played 39 total games. In 2007 UF (champ) played 40 games.

The college basketball season is too long and the teams are playing too many games. It might be a good thing to return to a 25-27 game regular season (without the post season conference tourneys)…and a maximum total of 33 possible games (6 game NCAA/NIT/CBI). It puts the emphasis back on winning your conference and scheduling good teams in the limited nonconference portion of the season. Travel limits in 1st & 2nd Round postseason games could be played at the higher seed home courts to cut down postseason travel costs.

Would serve to shorten the season, have less overhead costs/travel costs, less wear & tear on the athletes/coaches. It would serve to put focus on better scheduling by all (less cupcakes Syracuse) and might have to be coupled with a Cap restriction on home games. Otherwise Syracuse might never leave home – for any reason.

College sports should not be reduced to being a job, nor an growth industry for the NCAA Captains. Athletes in academia are not paid employees and do not deserve to be ‘pimped’ by the NCAA or the universities, in order to fill their monetary coffers. In short, collegiate sports should be left as one of the areas of true competitive spirit, and not subject to the rigors of profit & loss for capitalistic gain. Collegiate sports are not developmental proving grounds for the professional sports leagues, nor should collegiate sports be used as revenue streams for greedy palms, whether those palms belong to the NCAA or University administrations.

It is time for a course correction in collegiate basketball (sports). Returning the game to a shorter, more compact season – with a return to a 33 game cap, will revitalize the game and refocus collegiate basketball on its’ primary goal of promoting a good, ethical sports climate in which fair competition will determine its’ annual champion. It is also hoped that such a resetting of the collegiate game will provide sufficient cost savings/cost avoidance to curb the headlong pursuit of the almighty dollar by the controlling organizational powers (NCAA, Universities) and provide a respite whereby future organizational change will be considered “for the good of the game”, not for the bucks.