Thursday, April 22, 2010

NCAA adds 3 teams, goes to cable

The NCAA has decided to expand the 65 team tournament to 68 teams, meaning that the #17 seed in each region will play the #16 seed.

Furthermore, the Final Four and National Championship games will rotate between CBS and TBS starting in 2015 according to the details of the new NCAA deal inked with CBS and Turner Broadcasting.
The NCAA on Thursday announced a new 14-year television, Internet and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting to present the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion.

As part of the agreement, all games will be shown live across four national networks – CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV – beginning in 2011, which is a first for the championship and an element that NCAA Interim President Jim Isch said was a primary goal in the negotiations.

CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting also have been licensed and will collaborate on the NCAA’s corporate marketing program.

Late Wednesday, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee unanimously passed a recommendation to the Division I Board of Directors to increase the tournament field size to 68 teams beginning with the 2011 championship. The Board will review the recommendation at its April 29 meeting.

Isch called the landmark agreement “the beginning of a new partnership” and said the deal is not contingent upon the Board’s review of bracket expansion. He also said the increased rights fees put the NCAA on solid financial ground for the foreseeable future and enable the Association to “put our money where our mission is” to benefit student-athletes through programs, services or direct distribution to member conferences and schools.

The agreement also ensures student-athletes across all three NCAA divisions will continue to be supported through a range of championship opportunities, access to funds for personal and educational needs, and athletically related financial aid in Divisions I and II.

Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, said the announcement reflects the Association’s commitment to supporting student-athletes.

“This is another important milestone for intercollegiate athletics,” he said, pointing in particular to the leadership the late NCAA President Myles Brand provided in the years leading up to this decision.

“It is ironic as we gather to talk about this agreement that the blueprint we followed was laid out by Myles several years ago,” Shaheen noted. “This has been a project that has been worked on since literally 2004. This conclusion we are announcing today is not only one that we can be confident Myles would be proud of but rightfully reflects what intercollegiate athletics is all about. It coincides with the mission and vision that he charged us all to see forward over the last several years of his leadership.”

Beginning with the 2011 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, opening- , first- and second-round games will be shown nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional semifinal games. CBS will provide coverage of the regional finals, as well as the Final Four (including the national championship game) through 2015. Beginning in 2016, CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional finals with the Final Four and the national championship game alternating every year between CBS and TBS.

CBS Sports has broadcast the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship since 1982.

Under the new rights agreement, NCAA March Madness on Demand − the Emmy Award-winning video player that provides live streaming video of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship − will continue to be launched from and Turner also has secured the rights for any Time Warner digital property. The player will be operated and developed by Turner and have enhanced digital rights, allowing the NCAA to deliver content for multiple Turner and Time Warner platforms.

Isch said the agreement will provide on average more than $740 million annually to NCAA conferences and member schools to help student-athletes in 23 sports learn and compete.

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