NCAA Rep Tries (And Fails) To Spin That 96-Team Tourney Won't Cut Class Time

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↵The idea of a 96-team tournament is anything but popular. Some coaches say they're in favor of it, but that's their own (misguided) notion that it will save the jobs talking, so don't mind them. With the NCAA speaking to the media today, we got a doozy of a rationalization from Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, in response to a question from John Feinstein. ↵First, Shaheen laid out a 96-team tourney outline: ↵

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↵⇥If you were to have a 96 team tournament, it would mean that the top 32 teams, in essence the 1 through 8 seeds across four regions, would receive a bye and not compete until Saturday or Sunday of the first week. ↵
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↵This got the attention of Feinstein, who verbally picked apart Shaheen's proposed schedule, highlighting how it would keep teams advancing to the Sweet 16 (and beyond) out of school for the entire second week of the tournament. ↵

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↵After that round of 64 on Saturday/Sunday, teams would play on Tuesday/Wednesday. The winners moving on to the Sweet 16 would then be playing on Thursday/Friday. Can the NCAA acknowledge that they'll be keeping kids out of school for a week? Evidently not. ↵

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↵⇥Q. Basically they'll be out of school an entire week the second week? ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: Actually, if you were to look at the window for each individual team, you have to take each team and contemplate the fact right now you have half the field leaving campus on Tuesday, returning on Sunday or Monday. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. If they lose. I'm talking about the teams that win in advance. You're going to advance 16 teams. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: No, actually in the current model you have teams that depart on Tuesday, and even if they win, return on Sunday. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. We're misunderstanding each other. Under the new model that you laid out, you play 64 teams Thursday/Friday. 32 advance to games Saturday/Sunday. Then you are down after those games to 32 teams. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: Right. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. You're saying you play games in the round of 32 Tuesday/Wednesday. They would then advance to regionals when? ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: They would continue into the regional as it's normally scheduled now. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. So they would go Tuesday to Thursday, Wednesday to Friday? ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: Right. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. So they miss an entire week of school. That's what I'm trying to get. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: If you listened to my original answer, they leave now on Tuesday. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. I'm talking about the second week, not the first week. They play a game Saturday/Sunday, play a game Tuesday or Wednesday, then go directly to the regional. Tell me when in that second week they're going to be in class. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: The entire first week, the majority of the teams would be in class. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. You're just not going to answer the question about the second week. You're going to keep referring back to the first week, right? They're going to miss the entire second week under this model. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: So they're going to go to school the first week, and then they're ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. They're going to be under the same schedule you said basically the first week, and then they'll miss the entire second week. ↵⇥
↵⇥GREG SHAHEEN: I'm clearly missing the nuance of your point. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Q. You and I miss nuances a lot. Thank you. ↵⇥
↵⇥BOB WILLIAMS: Next question, please. ↵⇥

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↵What's really at issue here is a great deal of hypocrisy. This might sound like a bit of a straw man argument, but there are detractors of a college football playoff system who balk at the notion of kids missing so much class for those games. So why isn't the same principle applied in this instance? ↵

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↵For what it's worth, Shaheen also said they're considering the current model, a 68-team model and a 96-team model, but all of that was overshadowed by how dizzy everyone was from Shaheen's poor spin on how a significant number of student-athletes would be kept out of the classroom for an entire week with what appears to be a kind of hellish schedule. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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