According to the Sports Business Journal, we should know within a few weeks whether the NCAA will opt out of its current television deal and expand its NCAA Tournament to 96 teams before signing its next TV contract. From John Ourand at SBJ:
Interim NCAA President Jim Isch is expected to reveal his decisions on tournament expansion and media rights at an executive committee meeting April 29.
Isch could come to a decision as early as this week on whether the NCAA should opt out of the last three years of its 11-year, $6 billion media contract with CBS. Several NCAA and media executives expect Isch to recommend that the association opt out of the deal and expand the tournament from 65 to 96 teams. That would likely mean that either CBS will partner with Turner Sports to carry the games, or ESPN would pick up the tournament on its own.
Finally, the article ends with an interesting note:
The tournament is critically important to the NCAA, which derives 98 percent of all revenue from March Madness.
Even if that’s not exactly right—you’d have to think the NCAA makes more than 2% of their revenue on college football—it certainly gives you an indication of just how high the stakes are for everyone involved. March Madness is not just the pastime of college sports fans all over the country and the world; it’s also the crown jewel for the NCAA, its sponsors, and whichever television network gets lucky enough to broadcast them.
Will that crown jewel get a massive makeover in two weeks? Stay tuned.