ESPN is canceling a near decade-long tradition later this fall. The network has revealed it will not be airing its customary 24-hour college basketball marathon to start the season. The day-through-night marathon had been a showcase for top games as well as programs who wouldn’t normally find themselves on ESPN’s national airwaves.

The reasoning for the cancelation from ESPN’s perspective makes enough sense. It’s logistically fairly challenging to pull off 24 consecutive hours of college hoops broadcasts.

Via the Sporting News:

Hopefully, college basketball fans won’t lose any sleep over this news: ESPN is abandoning its 24-Hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon for 2017.

There still will be games televised by the company’s various channels on Tuesday, Nov. 14, notably the Champions Classic doubleheader in Chicago matching Michigan State vs. Duke and Kentucky vs. Kansas. But the joy of watching a team like Winthrop playing Manhattan just as the workday begins will be no more.

ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz told Sporting News the Marathon “presented some programming challenges and will not be part of our schedule this season.”

Krulewitz stressed ESPN will be introducing the gargantuan PK80 tournament — a 16-team event Nov. 23-26 honoring the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight — as well as televising more than 3,500 games this season on the network’s cable channels and online streaming services.

While the 24-hour marathon was a pretty fun gimmick and a unique way to kick off the basketball season, this is probably a shrewd decision from the network. It’s not like ESPN is devoid of noteworthy basketball games in the fall with so many early-season tournaments now dotting the college basketball landscape.

Additionally, you have to be some kind of devoted hardcore basketball fan or suffer from a serious case of narcolepsy to be watching college basketball games at 2:30 AM or 5 AM. I’m sure that wasn’t the easiest thing for the programs and fans that had those early morning games and it might be a relief to not have to worry about that scheduling.

Thank goodness Washington football coach Chris Petersen doesn’t have to deal with that….

[Sporting News]

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

  • whittx

    Always thought this could have been done for football too, except with teams going overseas.

  • MrBull

    Espn no longer about what made it a sports network..”

  • coach 232

    Sucks, ESPN is a shell of itself

  • Matt

    Stinks for the mid majors. I’m sure this a cost saving move.

  • TheOriginalDonald

    INSOMNIA YOU FATHEAD! Narcolepsy means falling asleep at the drop of a hat

  • Shawn Diiorio

    I’m in no position to say this is a dark day for ESPN, I never watched this marathon, and most people didn’t either. Low ratings and budget cuts did this in.

  • Dale Moog

    The thing is the LATE NIGHT games were 11pm PST(2am EST) starts by small schools in the Big West or WCC and the over night game was Hawaii playing a Big West or WCC team at 11pm Hawaii time ( 4 am EST) the big challenge was to find East Coast Schools that wanted to play at 6 or 8 am on a weekday. As for the cost I agree it was a very expensive experiment that had little true return. This was fun while it lasted but not big loss

    • whittx

      Always loved the 6AM MAACtion, but not too many schools from the MAAC or NEC would be willing to do this.

      • Dale Moog

        nothing better than leaving the TV on falling asleep to Hawaii and Pacific then waking up to see Rider and Marist.

  • Alan Nolt

    Working 3rd shift it was fun to turn into games when I was on break. And since I stay up all night on my days off I would watch it all. But guys like me are few and far between.