Coming Friday: Expanding to 69 or 96, who’s spooning whom?

Somehow, in the middle of the college basketball season, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has time to do a radio show.

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“Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” the weekly show on Sirius XM, brought former CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer about the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament.

Coach K: “We’ve had a lot of discussion over the last month about [the fact that] the NCAA can opt out of the CBS contract. Something’s going to happen. And it’s probably going to make somebody more money or cost somebody more money. So is this a time for more inventory? In other words, is this a time for expansion?”

Packer: “I think the 64 [team format] makes an awful lot of sense … But this decision is going to be a decision made strictly on finances …

“Division I men’s basketball is now generating in excess of 90 percent of the total gross revenue that the NCAA brings in. And so those three weeks in March pay for the other 87 championships. here are only a couple of other championships that have any income generation whatsoever. And now you have CBS with this huge loss that they’re incurring due to broadcasting the games and what the rights fees have become and there is nothing you can do about it. There is no more additional inventory if you are going to play with 65 teams …

“It’s an incredible decision that [the NCAA has] to make. As a businessman, if I’m the NCAA do I rather have, for the short term, three years, would I rather have the roughly $600 million a year from CBS and then realize I’m going to have to make a change thereafter, and that change thereafter may be approaching numbers that are nowhere near that number? … If you’re another bidder why do you want to go, particularly in this economic climate, why would you want to go to the rights fee that CBS is paying?

“So it’s a tough decision to make. Do you want to opt out and give up that short term really good money that’s coming in? Or do you want to make your adjustment now? I think that will be the key to this decision. It will have nothing to do with ‘Is the tournament neater?’ It may have something to do with the NIT … They run the NIT and that is a financial loser for them. So by eliminating the NIT and bringing those teams into the NCAA [tournament] they would eliminate a loss and create more inventory.”

We’ll see what else we can shine onto this topic in Friday’s media column.

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