This isn’t making that much news, but it’s probably important to talk about given all of the deals ESPN has struck lately. The NCAA has the option of getting out of its 11-year deal with CBS, following the 2010 Tournament, and the “Leader” could be lurking in the shadows. CBS President, Sean McManus, thinks a move is unlikely though. Via the NY Times….

Sean McManus, the president of CBS News and CBS Sports, said that he had had informal talks with the N.C.A.A. about an extension. “We have a pretty good track record of renewing all our deals well before they expire,” he said by phone Monday.

CBS does not want to see the tournament leave. “It fits perfectly into our schedule, and it’s become one of the signature sports,” McManus said. “So I’d rather not anticipate life at CBS Sports without it.”

A CBS Sports without the tournament, he said, would mean less regular-season basketball. Why ladle out the soup if you can’t serve the entrees — and receive about $1 million for a 30-second ad in the championship game?

Greg Shaheen, the N.C.A.A. senior vice president for basketball and business strategies, praised the N.C.A.A.’s relationship with CBS and said that “our interests are how to best create a continuing long-term relationship that benefits our membership.” He said there was “not much to discuss” on the opt-out.

Sure it’s a longshot, but that’s what people were saying about the BCS a few years ago. These are crazy economic times, but ESPN is playing with Monopoly money and it wouldn’t shock me if they put a little bit of pressure on CBS.

N.C.A.A. Can Opt Out of Deal With CBS After 2010 (NY Times)

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