NCAA Committee Recommends Larger Championship Fields, 90-Team Basketball Tournaments

NCAA Committee Recommends Larger Championship Fields, 90-Team Basketball Tournaments
Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2023

PROVIDENCE, RI - NOVEMBER 27: The NCAA Men's Final Four Houston 2023 logo on the display table of the 2023 Division I Men's Basketball National Championship trophy on display prior to a college basketball game between the Maine Black Bears and the Brown Bears on November 27, 2022, at Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, RI. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There could be a 90-team NCAA basketball tournament in the future.

Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press reported the NCAA Division I transformation committee released a report Tuesday that recommended a number of changes across college sports.

Among the most notable was the suggestion to allow 25 percent of teams in sports with 200 or more schools to participate in championship events.

The committee, which includes 21 members and is led by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer, will present the report to the Division I Board of Directors.

If the NCAA basketball tournaments were to reach the 25 percent threshold, that could mean expanding the fields from the current version of 68 teams to 90.

The NCAA expanded March Madness on the men’s side to the current 68-team field in 2011 and then announced in 2021 that it would do the same on the women’s side. The first NCAA women’s tournament with 68 teams happened in 2022.

While the NCAA does not have as much direct control over the championship format in the Football Bowl Subdivision, postseason expansion has also been a major topic at that level in recent years.

The former Bowl Championship Series system had just the top two teams play each other in one championship game for the national title, but the College Football Playoff that was implemented for the 2014 season opened the door for a four-team bracket.

In December, the CFP Board of Managers announced the field would expand to 12 teams starting in the 2024 campaign.

As for Tuesday’s report, other recommendations included increasing expanding permissible benefits for athletes in regards to travel, money for meals and housing, and training away from schools.

The committee also suggested creating sport-by-sport oversight committees beyond the ones already in place for football and basketball. Russo noted such a recommendation was a response to the Supreme Court’s unanimous 2021 decision in an antitrust case that went against the NCAA.

Additional sport-by-sport oversight committees would decentralize some of the governance across college sports.


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