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I read the NCAA is thinking about changing its postseason basketball tournament to a 96-team format and mutter to self, “The Rapacious Evil that is the NCAA.” Said Rapacious Evil has a working monopoly on Division I athletics. It’s a good deal for them — they use world-class athletes for nothing and charge world media whatever the market will bear.

The NCAA has 3 years left on an 11-year, six-billion-dollar contract with CBS. CBS has rights to 81 NCAA…as they say, “properties.” One of those properties is the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, known to many by that fingernails-on-blackboard hack phrase “March Madness.”

Because they could, the NCAA placed a clause in their contract with CBS that says they can opt out between April 6 and August 31 of this year and incur no penalty. So, the play is, opt out, put 96 tournament games on the table, demand billions more.

We should now gather ’round the campfire, beat our drums, and sing songs of mourning for the noble NIT, the National Invitation Tournament. The NIT was born in 1938. This was the men’s postseason tournament: the champion was acknowledged as national champion.

Sometime in the 1950s that changed — the NCAA’s tournament became dominant and the NIT turned into a tournament teams went to when the couldn’t get into the Rapacious Evil’s corporate barbecue. Nowadays, the NIT is rooted in a distant-but-honorable second place.

This beaten-down NIT tournament, founded by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association for Zeus’s sake, looks to be diminished even more as Rapacious Evil adds 32 teams to their postseason tournament. This expansion will immediately and negatively impact the NIT.

Somebody ought to sue.

Somebody did. As part of a 2005 settlement, the NCAA bought the NIT; or, more precisely, bought ten-year rights to the NIT for $56.5 million, the sum to be paid over ten years.

One wonders, why would anyone buy ten-year rights? Why not buy the NIT outright? Surely, it’s only a coincidence that the NIT had sued the NCAA arguing that it was compelling college teams to accept their tournament invitations even if aforementioned colleges preferred to play in the NIT. “Antitrust” is an ugly word. It was also argued that the NCAA’s expansion to a 65-team format was specifically devised to bankrupt the NIT.

The case went to trial; in fact, it was being argued in a Manhattan federal courtroom when the parties agreed to terms. The NIT had been owned by Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Committee/Association (MIBA) since 1940. The MIBA consisted of New York University, Fordham University, Manhattan College, Wagner College, and St. John’s University. As part of the settlement, the MIBA agreed to disband for ten years. Seems like an odd clause.

We’re five years into MIBA’s nonexistence. This might be an especially good time for the NCAA to think about expanding their March tournament to 250 teams, especially since it looks like nobody is likely to sue, what with the MIBA being disbanded and all.

The already obscenely bloated Rapacious Evil becomes elephantine, yet still has an appetite to eat all the leftovers. Or not.

Introducing the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament, now in its third year. It’s a postseason Division I basketball tournament, fields 16 teams that didn’t get invited to the NCAA or NIT tournaments. The CBI tournament begins March 16; it’s a single-elimination tournament until the championship round, which, in a nice touch, is a best-of-three series.

This is a straight-up corporate event produced by the Gazelle Group, which, according to their website, “…is a sports marketing firm located in Princeton, N.J., specializing in event production/management, client representation, and sponsorship consulting.”

Colleges pay $50,000 for the right to host a game. All games are played on college campuses and most will be broadcast by HDNet. Granted, it sounds low-rent, but regard the schools that played in last year’s tournament: Stanford, Wyoming, Oregon State, St. John’s, Wichita State, UTEP, Nevada, Boise State…all familiar Division I names.

This is a shocking development. Apparently, the NCAA has left enough shake on the table to feed another mouth. Do that and the next thing you know, another tournament parasite will want to snack.

Introducing the CollegeInsider.Com Post-season Tournament (CIT). This is a second postseason tournament, also starts March 16, also fields 16 teams, also plays on college campuses.

The CIT is for mid-majors. Games are streamed on b2tv.com. Sounds low-low rent, but again, you’ll recognize most 2010 participants, to wit: Harvard, Louisiana Tech, George Mason, Creighton, Appalachian State, Portland, Missouri State, and Loyola Marymount.

Compete with the NCAA? One hopes. As Lao-Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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