A Different Kind Of March Madness…NCAA, NIT But Two Other.

The world of the have's and the have nots in college athletics ebbs and flows in any given year, and this time of year the hope for Cinderella trying on the glass slipper in March Madness is what keeps fans up at night. However what keeps many coaches and administrators up at night is what happens when you are a good mid-major or even a rebuilding school in a major conference and the Big Dance, or even the little dance, the NIT, don’t come calling. The answer for some is to go and try another tournament or another…and this year we find not one “alternative” but two….The College Basketball Invitational and the CollegeInsider.com…. The Charleston Post and Courier had a good look at the value to some, and the lack of value to others that these two “alternative” tournaments offer schools. The biggest value is a chance to play, and for a school like The Citadel…a tournament…any tournament…means something. However for VMI and Seton Hall and others, the value…namely a large entrance fee paid to the promoter for the chance to play another game. Didn’t matter. Given the quick turnaround there are a limited number of schools that can even find the way to make the sale and fill an arena for even a higher prestige and payoff like the NIT. Notre Dame looked half filled at best on St. Patty's Day, but the NIT remains a good consolation prize, with an NCAA sanction, ESPN TV and the ability to play on into Madison Square Garden. Now why play in these other two event. TV exposur. There isn’t any, other than HDNet. A chance to play in a major building for some school. All home sites. Sponsor ties for a school looking for revenu. No large sponsors…or media tied to either one. The chance to give the “kids” another gam. Maybe…but after a grueling season…is it worth keeping playing when a school like VMI has the point that their students get back time studying or get necessary down time as opposed to playing another gam. And lastly, event branding and association with the even. With no major sponsors, no TV, limited media and games lost in the morass of not just the NCAA's and the NIT, but the start of baseball and other events, where is the valu. If it helps bring in some revenue for the home school in these troubles times…great. If it saves the jobs of some coaches and gives the athletes one more shot at glory, great. But to expect another two tournament to build a brand just for the sake of playing more games and further water down the value of postseason tournament play and all that goes with it seems like a play that a smart promoter is making to make a quick play for some dollars at the expense of others. Love the NCAA's, really like the NIT…after that, why not find brands willing to invest in Division II or Division III postseason play, which may draw just as many fans, has more of an intensity, and can be gotten at affordable prices for brands connecting with student-athletes.

Some other good reads…Phil Sheridan in the Philly Inquirer had a good look at Temple's run back to the NCAA's…GQ had an extensive piece on the workplace issues working with former MLB’er Lenny Dykstra…and Mike Reynolds in Multichannel News has a good look at CBS’ all-around activation plans for the NCAA's.