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#pounditTuesday, February 7, 2023

Bob Huggins wants huge change that would end NCAA Tournament

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins thinks college basketball’s power conferences need to embrace a controversial but financially rewarding idea.

Speaking at Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday, Huggins advocated for the sport’s elite conferences to break away from the NCAA and form their own tournament in order to earn a greater share of the profits.

“They’re doing it in football,” Huggins said, via Myron Medcalf of ESPN. “Why wouldn’t they do it? The presidents and athletic directors that have all the juice, why wouldn’t they do it? Makes no sense why they wouldn’t do it. I think it’s more ‘Why wouldn’t they?’ than ‘Why would they?’ And then, the other people, they can have their own tournament.

“Those Cinderella schools are putting 200 people, at best, in their gym. We’re putting 14,000.”

If you’re a stakeholder with one of these programs, the idea makes sense. The NCAA has an $8.8 billion TV deal for March Madness, and a good portion of that does trickle down to conferences and schools. However, Huggins’ concern is that much of the basketball money ends up being spent on football programs due to college football’s greater reach and viewership. A breakaway tournament, at least in Huggins’ mind, would ensure greater financial relevance and a bigger share of the financial pie for the schools involved.

Fans, however, would take some convincing. A playoff was an easy sell in college football because of the unpopular BCS system. College basketball already has a system that lets smaller teams earn the chance to compete, and sometimes beat, bigger schools. Those games have produced some of the tournament’s most memorable moments. Taking that away would likely be hugely unpopular. After all, few people have major complaints with the existing format of the NCAA Tournament.

Photo: Oct 20, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; West Virginia coach Bob Huggins during the question and answer session during the Big 12 Basketball Tipoffat T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

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