Everyone is trying to figure out exactly what is happening to our economy these days, but most people think it can largely be attributed to the price of gas. If gas goes up, so does the price of doing business. Now every industry has to raise prices yada, yada, yada. Well, Eye On Sports Media recently came across a passage by Michelle Brutlag Hosick from NCAA News, and she says that this state of affairs could possibly lead to some changes to the NCAA Tournament in 2009….

After high fuel prices, decreased flight capacity and new trip-related fees resulted in higher-than-budgeted expenses for championships travel during the past fiscal year, all three NCAA divisions are studying how to respond to those conditions during 2008-09.

The Executive Committee Finance Committee approved a review of travel-related issues and requested that various governance bodies, including the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet and the Divisions II and III Championships Committees, provide an initial report and any recommendations related to championships travel management to the Executive Committee and leadership in each division by October 30.

The NCAA national office staff has been monitoring a changing environment that resulted in a $7.2 million increase in championships travel expenses during the recently completed fiscal year, compared to 2006-07. Costs in Division I increased 31 percent last year and 58 percent over the last three years. In Division II the increase was almost 13 percent last year and 44 percent over the last three. Division III has seen increases of 7.5 percent over the last year and about 43 percent for the three-year period.

Indications are that the trends will continue, with a projected increase of $6 to $7 million in Division I travel expenses, assuming no changes to current travel, seeding and bracketing policies are made.

While a shrunken field is highly unlikely, it’s apparently a possibility that’s being considered at the present time. However, the people who are probably going to be hurt the most are students. It’s highly unlikely that a school will be able to fly some of their student body to tournament games this upcoming season, and this will in turn lead to teams staying on their same coast and the seeding being even harder to work out for the committee.

That’s certainly not good news for one of the most popular sporting events in the country.

Increasing travel costs concern for championships (NCAA)
NCAA March Madness Field Size To Be Cut Next Year? (Sports On The Air)