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April 1, 2010
BOB WILLIAMS: Good afternoon. I'm Bob Williams and welcome to the 2010 Men's Final Four.
As you may recall from past years, the NCAA president used this time to discuss issues associated with men's basketball and this tournament, which is integral to our association.
Given the many issues related to the tournament and of the sport, interim president Jim Isch has relinquished his time today for a more focused discussion on the state of men's basketball and for our panel to answer questions you might have.
Our goal is to continue the dialogue on a sport and event that captures the world's attention during the first week of April every year. We hope this dialogue will continue for years to come.
Joining us today is Dan Guerrero, chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee and director of athletics at UCLA; Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs and Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of basketball and business strategies.
I'll now turn it over to Dan for opening remarks. We'll follow with a Q&A session.
DAN GUERRERO: It's a pleasure to be here this afternoon. I guess I have the dubious distinction of wearing two hats today: not only as the chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, but also as the chair of the basketball Academic Enhancement Group.
I'll talk first about my role as the chair of the basketball committee. As you all know five, six months ago, a little over 300 teams started practicing in October with the dream of making it here to Indianapolis. After a long, exhausting season for many of them, of course we have the four teams here that will represent those four regions with an opportunity to hoist that trophy this coming Monday.
We're excited about the field. We think the tournament has been fantastic. I want to give credit to the Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the work they've done all year long to get us to this point.
As it relates to my role as the chair of the Basketball Academic Enhancement Committee, I was here last year at this press conference with Myles Brand seated next to me and I was able to outline the recommendations that were made and presented to the board of directors, the executive committee, the board of directors, this past August.
Our charge once again was to come up with proposals, both legislative and non-legislative, that would serve to enhance the academic progress of Division I men's basketball players. We forwarded those recommendations. They are in the process of being reviewed. In the meantime, there has been continued research on the issue of academics, especially as it relates to the areas of transfer students, things of that nature. We believe that we're in a good place in terms of moving that initiative forward.
With that, I'd like to turn this over to Kevin Lennon, who can elaborate a bit more on the academic side.
KEVIN LENNON: Thank you, Dan. Good afternoon.
As you may know, we're in our seventh full year of the most ambitious academic reform package in the history of the NCAA. We're beginning to see full implementation on the three components of that package: increased academic standards for our young people coming out of high school, and for those in our colleges, our improved measurements through the graduation success rate in the APR, and the increased consequences for poor team academic performance as well as team recognition for those that are doing well in the classroom.
Again, we are at the full implementation stage of that package and beginning to see some of those positive results, particularly in the sport of men's basketball.
I would note this year as the APR numbers will be released in a little over a month, we're going to see a slight improvement, continued improvement in the sport of men's basketball. In particular, we will be noting the improved retention rate of our student-athletes in the sport of men's basketball, which in many ways was one of the catalysts for the work that Dan and his committee undertook in terms of enhancing the academic performance much basketball players. There was an issue with retention, and we are pleased to see those issues are being addressed and the most recent retention rate reflects that improvement.
The graduation success rate continues to improve as well. I would note that eight years ago we were at about a 56% rate in the sport of men's basketball. The most recent numbers indicate a 66% graduation success rate. That is a substantial increase, one of the highest we've seen across our sports.
In particular I would note the African American men's basketball players, the rate has increased from 46% eight years ago to 57% this year. As I think, as you all know, we continue to remind folks that our student-athletes in all sports, certainly men's basketball, are continuing to outperform the student body. That's very positive.
One other point I would highlight as well. We've spent a lot of time looking back and gathering data now on how well students have done 10 years out. The rates I talk to you about are six-year measures. We're at about an 80% graduation rate if you look 10 years out from our student-athletes from when they originally enrolled in school. That's a number we're very proud of. Begins to reflect the 80% as operational goal that our late President Brand established in terms of graduation for our student-athletes.
Having said that, improvement is still needed, there's no question, in the sport of men's basketball. It still does lag behind the academic performance of some of our other sports. Again, some of the work that Dan is talking about are meant to address some very specific issues and concerns we have in that sport. It's our hope, when those are ultimately adopted and implemented, we're going to see greater numbers in the numbers we've talked about.
We are seeing improvement on some of the teams that have historically been performing at the bottom end of our APR scale, if you will. We have fewer number of teams below the two benchmarks of 925 and 900. That is very encouraging. We are seeing through our efforts with improvement plans and institutions taking a broad-based approach at looking how to improve the success of their men's basketball players, it appears to be paying dividends.
As a result of that, we're going to see fewer men's basketball teams subject to penalties this year when those numbers come out about a month from now. We're very pleased with that.
Historically we've focused all of our attention on academic standards. The new package here has brought in the issue of consequences, penalties for teams, again. That's been successful and been a part of this package. There is a renewed effort to look at the initial eligibility requirements for incoming students. There is a renewed effort, particularly in light of the basketball enhancement working group's work to look at transfer students. How can we go about having better prepared students entering our four-year institutions, whether they come directly from a high school or junior college? There is a serious and ongoing effort among two committees to put forward a set of ideas that the board of directors can look at this summer and that ultimately will be vetted through our membership over the course of the year.
I think this again reflects the fact we need better prepared students coming to our campuses. The NCAA intends to work with the secondary psychological communities and junior colleges to make sure our athletes are prepared to be students and athletes.
I'll turn it back to you, Bob.
BOB WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
At this point we'll turn it over to Greg Shaheen, who will have his observations of the tournament.
GREG SHAHEEN: Good afternoon, everyone. It's a pleasure to be in Indianapolis, the hometown of the NCAA, a place we have been several times, but we will be several times going forward. You're in a building that was actually designed with this event in mind. It's a pleasure to see it come to fruition, having spent six or seven years in the design phase of this building, to really see something special. As you get courtside and see the energy and layout of the building, hopefully over the next couple of days, you'll really get a sense of the good work from the city and the state of Indiana. We're excited to be here and excited for a great weekend.
There are obviously a number of topics that we've been spending our time on over the last couple of years. One certainly pairs up with the academic discussion that was just being discussed. That was Dr. Brand's vision to make sure we are making an effort to gain inroads at younger ages of young people as they're starting school, which ultimately has manifested itself in the iHoops Youth Initiative that was announced two years ago, hit the ground last year, and has continued to grow. Its office is based here in Indianapolis. It's fully staffed, in the starting phase of the variety of communication programs and activities that it will have over the next couple of years, the relationship with the NBA has been positive, the relationship as well with those who are in the college basketball space has continued to improve.
There is a long journey ahead of us for that, and that's one of the things we knew when we got into it, that it would take a sustained effort to have an impact. In fact, following Dr. Brand's passing, the NBA really redoubled its efforts and commitment in making sure that we proceed with that initiative to see that through.
The other thing that has captured the imagination and headlines of many has been the discussion of the field size for the Division I men's basketball championship. It's an opportunity today I think to outline a little bit of history on this and background on how we got here, and then to discuss some of the things that are being looked at and contemplated in the dialogue that we're having.
You're all aware that we are essentially through a quarter century now with a field size that has been 64 or 65. So the last technical expansion was from 64 to 65 starting with the 2001 championship. We have been in that situation ever since. That falls under the current bundled rights agreements that were signed in 1999 with CBS, in 2001 with ESPN. Those agreements are co-terminus. Both of those feature during the eighth contract year, which is this contract year, that the NCAA has the opportunity to study the market environment and what it believes to be best.
In the course of that process, the NCAA prepared for the last several years, actually President Brand was at the forefront of this topic years ago, first discussions going back to 2004, about making sure that we were prepared obviously for the conclusion of the agreements, which would be in 2013, but also for this eighth-year window to make sure we were prepared to analyze and study the future.
So with that in mind, we have been doing that roundabout for about as many years, studying various models, monitoring the marketplace, monitoring what the world is doing outside of the association. So an adjustment in the media contracts, any adjustment involving an opt-out would have to be decided by the end of this summer, by the end of this contract year, to notify our media partners.
That effort really has taken root in the last couple of years, especially with the Division I Men's Basketball Committee discussion that in concept started in, let's say, 2007 and '8, and really as we got into 2009, went much more in depth at looking at models. We studied dozens of models as we went into it.
I'll describe a couple of the models, much of which has been talked about. But just to give you a sense of the priorities, the parameters that we put into place, we knew that we did not want to expand the calendar, the duration, the footprint of the championship. To the extent possible, we wanted the event to start and conclude in the same weeks, on the same days, if at all as possible. And a number of the windows and models that we looked at would not facilitate that.
But sensitive in the melding of the initiative of the association, the other issues we're pursuing, the natural sports calendar and the like, was the fact that we needed to make sure there was a logical fit that also kept our student-athletes able to be back on campus as much as possible for the total experience.
Also the opportunities for the association. It's very easy perhaps to talk about one sport. We'll read many accounts that it's the Division I men's basketball contract. In reality, as you all know, this is a contract that provides coverage, exposure and opportunity for our 88 championships across our 400,000-plus student-athletes. So the responsibility here is tall.
So assessing those opportunities, making sure that we are able to provide those into the future was a key priority, as well.
Also then to provide long-term financial stability to the association. When the agreements were signed in 1999 and in 2001, that was one of the highlighted priorities for the association, was to make sure that why such a long-term agreement, and it was to provide a level of stability to the association over time. That's proven wise, if you take the economic cycles that have happened over time.
So our effort would be to continue that, provide long-term stability and predictability, if you will, to our membership as we go forward.
So we've studied these models, and likely have come up with a couple that draw the majority of interest. To be clear, we have studied and are looking at the current 65-team model continuing, going to 68 teams, which would contemplate four opening-round games, if you will. We have contemplated 80, an 80-team model and a 96-team model. For a variety of different reasons, the models that we narrowed to were the current model of 65, the prospective model of 68, and the prospective model of 96, and with absolutely no loyalty or predisposition to any one of them as we went into the process. There are pros and cons to any of them as you go forward.
The model that has been talked about a great deal, the 96-team model, looks as follows: .
It starts on the same day. Technically speaking it starts two days later than the current championship because it would eliminate the opening round game. Rather than starting on Tuesday, it would start on Thursday. Start at the same time as the current championship does. It would conclude on the same day. It would conclude on Monday that the current championship does, as well.
It would not require any more competition venues. In fact, it would require one fewer venues in terms of what we normally operate with now.
In terms of days away from class and time away from class and campus, the models that we have studied, depending on which you look at, offer an equal or lesser amount of travel and time away from campus based on a comparison model in looking at the 96-team model.
And one of the things I should point out is clearly what's important to our membership, as well, is what happens in terms of distribution. Our approach has been that we would study that, that that would be a membership discussion and decision, and that process certainly is underway as well. Without knowing which direction we would go in, we're not able to determine exactly what that distribution model would be like, except to say there is a general interest and acceptance of continuing the same distribution, a similar sort of distribution model as exists now, protecting the interests of our overall Division I membership.
So we've studied those models, the logistics that are involved in it, the logistics that are involved in conducting the championship in that way, the benefits of being able to do that from a broadcast, and overall distribution perspective. The experience for the student-athletes, the benefits that they would have in terms of being able to participate in that, as well as, again, meeting the overall goals that outlined a moment ago.
In terms of context, it's important to point out that across the 88 championships that the association has, the majority of them have expanded in the last 10 years. 75 out of the 88 have expanded. So it's not unusual the topic of field size is an Evergreen topic that is up to our membership. Division I Men's Basketball Committee, which Dan chairs, is an instrumental starting point for the discussion on where the field size would go over time. As I said, over the last couple of years, that's been discussed in concept. Last year it was discussed with a greater level of depth.
All of this against the backdrop, against the reality of there's a agreement right now through 2013, in terms of the championship. So this could be a lot of discussion about nothing. The association has a secured contract with valued broadcast partners for the next three years beyond the current year. And certainly it has no concern, no reservation regarding continuing in that front if that is what winds up making sense for the association.
At the same time, as Dr. Brand very clearly pointed out as we went into this process, we needed to make sure that we did everything possible to use the due diligence window to understand ourselves and understand what the future would hold. And so that's what we're doing. That's the process that we're undertaking. We've been handling it every day for the last several months and years, quite honestly, as we studied it for the benefit of the association.
So that's an outline of the background, outline of the probable model, style in terms of what we have. If you were to have a 96-team tournament, it would mean that the top 32 teams, in essence the 1 through 8 seeds across four regions, would receive a bye and not compete until Saturday or Sunday of the first week.
As a result, they would also then be in a situation where their travel was later in the week than it currently is, under the model today, involving travel Tuesday night or Wednesday night. It would move that back a couple of days, for those 32 teams. Then for the other 64 teams, it would involve their travel stabilizing or being very similar to what it is now, very similar model.
There's been some discussion about frequency of play. This would be an extraordinary increase in frequency of play. We've analyzed all 347 Division I schools and their schedules, studied the pace and frequency of their game schedules. Nothing about the models that we're looking at is irregular from that perspective.
We've studied the regular season. In a regular season now, where more than 2,000 games are broadcast and available to the public, wherever you may be in the world, the opportunity to college basketball really lies in raising the awareness and relevance of the games from the start to the end of the season in a unified way all roads lead to March. All roads lead to the conference tournaments and the Division I men's basketball championship in that regard.
Our objective would be over the regular season to promote in an unprecedented fashion the relevance of what's happening on courts across the country as we get into Division I men's basketball. Put more simply, our goal is to promote Division I men's basketball, Division I women's basketball, as well, by the way, during the regular season in a much greater fashion than we ever have, because there are great stories going on on hundreds of campuses across the country on and off the court. Our objective and commitment would be to promote that.
Likewise the conference tournaments that take place around the country for 30 of our member conferences at the Division I level are quite instrumental. That is the window through which and the door through which every one of the 340-plus Division I institutions have the opportunity to earn their way into the tournament in their last few games.
So, for example, the reality is that a team, regardless of record, regardless of injury, and regardless of issues that may have happened during the season, has their opportunity to make it into the tournament, just as they do now, through the conference tournaments. They also have the opportunity to demonstrate where they should fall relative to other teams in the tournament through the conference tournaments as well.
That's long been the position of the committee. It would continue to be as we go forward into the selection process. But it offers the obvious point as well, that a new shelf would be created, if you will, across a 96-team field. That is the competition to be an 8 seed in the top 8 seeds across the four regions, because that gives you the opportunity to come off of the regular season and the conference tournaments in a way that would allow a couple of days of rest and preparation before picking back up, recognizing that a number of the conference tournaments take place on consecutive days leading up to Selection Sunday.
Finally we've also looked -- in addition to the frequency of play, we've looked at the total number of games. Seven games required to win the national championship would be too many. Just a couple of brief statistics about that.
At the current pace, with the opening-round game in a field of 65, as many as one team would have to win seven games to win the national championship. Under the model of 96, the maximum number of teams that would have to play seven games before competing for the national championship would be two. So just to put in perspective the notion that an additional game is substantially problematic, or the seventh game in the series would be a problem, is not really one that statistically holds up, as well.
So that's the brief summary, background, and glimpse of what the current model looks like. The process is ongoing. It is led by interim president Jim Isch, who is involved on the internal project team for us in the months and years leading up to when he became interim president following Dr. Brand's death. And so that continues on. Those conversations are literally happening on an ongoing basis and dedicated to the timeline of July 31st of the date by which we must make the final decision.
Obviously, the contract decision is one that rests solely with the president of the NCAA. So that is in Interim President Jim Isch's hands, as well -- in contrast to the field formation and field size questions which would originate from the Division I Men's Basketball Committee and be advanced to ultimately the Division I board of directors for their review.
So that's a summary of the background, a look at the model and the process going forward.
BOB WILLIAMS: Thank you, Greg.
At this time we'll open up the floor to our panel for questions.
Q. Dan, if you could put on your UCLA PAC-10 hat here, attendance was poor at the Staples Center. If a 96 form occurred, how could you sell, for example, the PAC-10 tournament as something that would be worthy, knowing a fair amount of the members would be going to the tournament the week later?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, it's a difficult question to answer at this point in time because we really have not contemplated that as a conference.
I would say that a number of things would be need to be evaluated from each conference perspective. Certainly the regular season, the impact on the regular season would be of issue. Conference tournaments would be of issue. And the relevance of regular-season games, as I indicated.
Once again, it goes back to maybe the devil being in the details. If, in fact, the format is such that a regular-season champion earns an automatic berth into the tournament, that immediately creates some relevance into the regular season. We don't know if that is the outcome or the likely outcome, but it's a possibility.
So it's very difficult to speculate what the impact of an expanded tournament might have on a conference tournament. But that's for a conference commissioners and those minds to determine.
Q. Obviously the reason you would do something like this would be for additional revenue. What sort of additional revenue can you predict from an expanded tournament field?
GREG SHAHEEN: I'm glad you asked that question because obviously we want to reveal all of the numbers that have been discussed.
You know, I think the premise here is to create a model that most likely provides stability over time. If you were to look at the NCAA's contract, since the expansion -- over the last 25 years, the media revenue, the media rights revenue, has grown 2200%. So the curve of that is significant. And the need for that, when we're moving 96 cents on the dollar to our membership, is to offer security in that regard.
So the structure of it is to provide inventory that allows and assures continued growth in the package. But at this point in time, we don't know the quantification of that. We're still in the phase where we're putting all of that together.
Q. Greg, would this model be for the women as well and be the exact same setup?
GREG SHAHEEN: I'm glad you asked. The study at this point has been, in the regard that I'm describing, focused on the men's championship. At the same time there have been parallel discussions, and it's more of an ongoing strategic discussion, within the women's game. There is a long-range planning, a strategic subcommittee from the women's basketball committee, as well as a group within the collegiate commissioners association, that has been concentrating on women's basketball and the needs for growing the game over time and figuring out what is in the best interest of that championship.
So what's contemplated here and what I'm describing to you is really an adjustment on the men's field. What is best -- in the best interest of growing the women's game is something that we want to make sure to involve and engage, and intend to do as we go forward. But they're really following separate tracks in that regard because we want those study groups to be able to come forward on their own.
Q. Greg, you laid out in great detail the travel schedule for the first week. Just so I'm sure I have it right, you're going to play the round of 64 Saturday/Sunday, correct?
GREG SHAHEEN: Uh-huh.
Q. So you didn't lay out the travel schedule for the second week when presumably teams will be playing Monday/Tuesday, then winners would go almost directly to regionals on Thursday/Friday, if that's the schedule as I think it is.
GREG SHAHEEN: It's one of several models that exist. But actually it doesn't necessarily mean that the play continues on Monday/Tuesday. Actually, depending on the structure, there can be a break on Monday so that a team that, for example, is playing Saturday could play Saturday, then Tuesday. So they would have both Sunday and Monday without games.
You also have to keep in mind that on any day of competition, you're losing half the field. Half of the teams are losing and returning home. So, for example, in the first four days of the championship, whereas right now you go from 65 during that time to 16, here you go from 96 to 32. So the majority of teams by number will be back home at that point in time.
But then for the teams that do advance, they would play -- they could play that Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, for example, going into regional week.
Q. To follow up, if you're going Saturday/Tuesday, Sunday/Tuesday then with the teams that advance if they're playing Saturday/Sunday games, right?
GREG SHAHEEN: They would play Saturday/Tuesday.
Q. So you're not going to play any games on Sunday of the first weekend?
GREG SHAHEEN: No. You'd play half the games on Saturday, half the games on Sunday.
Q. The Sunday teams that advance would play on Tuesday or are you saying Wednesday?
GREG SHAHEEN: Wednesday.
Q. Basically they'll be out of school an entire week the second week?
GREG SHAHEEN: Actually, if you were to look at the window for each individual team, you have to take each team and contemplate the fact right now you have half the field leaving campus on Tuesday, returning on Sunday or Monday.
Q. If they lose. I'm talking about the teams that win in advance. You're going to advance 16 teams.
GREG SHAHEEN: No, actually in the current model you have teams that depart on Tuesday, and even if they win, return on Sunday.
Q. We're misunderstanding each other. Under the new model that you laid out, you play 64 teams Thursday/Friday. 32 advance to games Saturday/Sunday. Then you are down after those games to 32 teams.
GREG SHAHEEN: Right.
Q. You're saying you play games in the round of 32 Tuesday/Wednesday. They would then advance to regionals when?
GREG SHAHEEN: They would continue into the regional as it's normally scheduled now.
Q. So they would go Tuesday to Thursday, Wednesday to Friday?
GREG SHAHEEN: Right.
Q. So they miss an entire week of school. That's what I'm trying to get.
GREG SHAHEEN: If you listened to my original answer, they leave now on Tuesday.
Q. I'm talking about the second week, not the first week. They play a game Saturday/Sunday, play a game Tuesday or Wednesday, then go directly to the regional. Tell me when in that second week they're going to be in class.
GREG SHAHEEN: The entire first week, the majority of the teams would be in class.
Q. You're just not going to answer the question about the second week. You're going to keep referring back to the first week, right? They're going to miss the entire second week under this model.
GREG SHAHEEN: So they're going to go to school the first week, and then they're --
Q. They're going to be under the same schedule you said basically the first week, and then they'll miss the entire second week.
GREG SHAHEEN: I'm clearly missing the nuance of your point.
Q. You and I miss nuances a lot. Thank you.
BOB WILLIAMS: Next question, please.
Q. Same point, a little bit maybe different approach. It seems almost inescapable that more games is going to lead to more class time missed for at least a section of teams, not an insignificant section. How does the NCAA reconcile that, given the emphasis being put on academic improvement in men's basketball?
GREG SHAHEEN: Sure. Well, if you're going to contemplate a 96-team model, first of all, and you're going to compare it on a side-by-side with a 65-team model, you can't do that. That's where the flaw in the model or in that perspective is. You have to have some comparable model.
So if you were to look right now at the college basketball calendar for the NCAA from Selection Sunday for two weeks there are games being played every day. Under this model, rather than there being games played every day, there would not be games played the first Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And the second week, there would not be games being played on Monday. You have to contemplate the fact that you have half the field that is competing on any given day returning back to campus.
As you reconcile all of that, you see on a 96-team basis, versus the current 97 teams that the NCAA conducts through the championship and through the NIT, for example, you have, on a side-by-side basis, a reduction in the travel time.
Q. I understand that with the expanded field you would be adding some teams that maybe won a regular-season title and didn't qualify in their conference tournament. Have you done any calculations on the odds that you're actually adding a champion to the tournament or are you just watering down the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: You have a 65-team field now. If you were to analyze where the champion has come from in the 10 years, after next week we'll have had the 65- or 64-team field, the champion typically does not come from a certain portion of the field.
However, that opportunity exists. So the issue here is, is that opportunity -- there's nothing different that would bode for the argument that was given in 1983, 1984, was, Why have a 12- or 13-seed because they will not have a chance to win the national championship?
Q. But isn't that essentially then just being a kind of money grab because you're just adding an extra day of revenue, extra TV dates, stuff like that, without truly improving the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: You have the same core teams that are of the quality, the top 34 teams right now compete in the championship. So it's not the top 65 teams necessarily in Division I that compete in the championship as it is now. This affords more teams the opportunity to have the shot or opportunity to compete for the title.
So in terms of watering it down, using your term, the reality is there are more teams on any given model, in any given year now, that have upset teams that are in the top 25 or top 50, depending on the measures, than you've ever had before, including teams that are below the traditional threshold of where a team would make it into the tournament as an at-large member.
So the opportunity for there to be an upset on any given day is part of what makes the tournament great, it's part of what's made the tournament great for the last 25 years. It's the opportunity to be able to grow it from there.
Q. Greg, first of all, in what amounts to the first weekend, essentially that third game would be played at the same venue as the first two rounds? We'd play Thursday, Saturday, Monday, all at the same place?
GREG SHAHEEN: You would have the option, and it's something that we have studied and would study further. You have the option of whether or not it would be at the first and second round site or could be played at the regional site. Whatever would be determined to be best, to provide the most continuity as we go forward.
Q. Would it be possible then for a top 8 seed in the hypothetical to play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday?
GREG SHAHEEN: The goal in the structure of how we would approach it is for teams that play Friday to be locked into sites that play Tuesday and to have that stager so a Sunday team would play on Wednesday.
Q. Would this essentially mean the end of the NIT and would you just be absorbing those teams by and large into the tournament?
GREG SHAHEEN: The way in which the NIT operates now is that it's operated as a separate -- it's an independent, but part of the NCAA structure. So as a result, they would have to make that decision; the NIT would have to make the decision of what it does going forward.
I think the model as we contemplate it in terms of what has been described from the NCAA championship perspective contemplates such a scenario, but at the same time there's nothing that's been determined in that regard.
Q. Greg, do you really think that people in this country want to watch teams in the 30s play teams in the 90s? Isn't this going to really water down the regular season even more than it already is?
GREG SHAHEEN: Well, throughout the season right now people go watch teams in the 30s play teams in the 90s. Actually, there are a number of sold-out games where you have teams playing in the top 10 that play teams in the 300s, and the room is completely sold.
There are about 175 teams that have at or over a .500 regular-season schedule this year, and there are at or over 155 teams that have a .500 record in their conference. So the notion that going from a 65- to a 96-team championship in some way takes teams that would otherwise be staying at home or would otherwise not be capable of winning a game on any given day, at least relative to the current field structure and quality, I think merits some reexamination.
As we've gone more into it and had discussions, I think you get comfortable with the fact that when you study the regular season, you recognize that there are teams playing that may be a top one or two line seed that, with regularity, play a team that would be in the bottom 10% of Division I. And we're talking nothing in that neighborhood. We're talking about all teams that would be easily in the top third of Division I.
BOB WILLIAMS: Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.
End of FastScripts