The NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee laid out on Jan. 3 a recommendation that would lengthen the NCAA basketball tournaments to 90 teams. The committee ordered with finding, “opportunities to modernize college sports” introduced many suggestions, with the most important one being the expansion of playoff tournaments.
As per the report, the committee then addressed the recommendation as followed:
–Accommodate access for 25% of active Division I members in good standing in team sports sponsored by more than 200 schools
Both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments would be equally included and lengthen both team selections. Right now, each tournament invites 68 teams. Division I men’s basketball has 358 teams, while the women’s basketball has 350. A field of about 25% for each tournament would equal roughly 90 teams for each championship, should the NCAA decide to keep both fields level.
Keep in mind, this recommendation is only a recommendation. It will now travel to the DI board of directors for them to take a look at it at the NCAA convention. In order for this expansion to even be possible, it would additionally have to be approved by each sport’s governing body.
The final recommendations are called by the committee to be determined by January 2024 in time to be enforced and in place for the 2024-25 season. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer who are the co-chairs of the committee are then added, plus 19 other teammates from multiple NCAA programs and conferences.
Among other topics, the committee also suggested that colleges assess post-college medical coverage for wounded athletes along with mental health and career support entailed by:
-At least two years of medical coverage after college or the completion of their athletic career if they sustain an athletically related injury
–Mental health treatment and services in accordance with recognized best practices
–Degree completion funds for ten years, should they choose to step away from their studies before reaching graduation, before eventually deciding to return
–Academic, career and life skills counseling so that they are given every resource needed to make informed decisions about their minds, bodies, careers, and finances
The committee advised that every athletic department in the country should hire a full-time staff member based on “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.” It also suggested to rethink the FBS participant must have an average attendance of 15,000 fans per game, “while focusing on other elements that more directly link the student-athlete experience to expectations for FBS membership criteria.”
In my opinion, expanding the tournament to 90 teams from 68 would benefit teams like Syracuse, who play a tough non-conference schedule in order to prepare for the rough and rigid play of the ACC to then help them prepare for the tournament. If this proposal goes through and is implemented before the 2024-25 seasons, this would likely guarantee the Orange making the tournament every year.