The college sports postseason is expanding once again in the name of television revenue. Fox Sports is reportedly in talks with three big-time college basketball conferences over a postseason tournament for programs that do not make the NCAA Tournament.
The plans, which were reported by Seth Davis at The Messenger, would effectively represent a Fox takeover of the spot held for years by the NIT.
According to college basketball insider Adam Zagoria, the Big 12 and Big East have already agreed to participate.
The Big East and Big 12 are already “locked in,” one source told NJ Advance Media. https://t.co/JXdukxjNHa
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 11, 2023
The tournament seems to have three major selling points. First, the games would all be played at one site in Las Vegas. Second, Fox appears to be working alongside corporate partners to bring NIL opportunities to the table for participating athletes. Lastly, the tournament would theoretically be a step up from the NIT as a television product because it would only include major basketball programs.
Of course, those are positives mostly for Fox, which has rights deals with all those conferences.
Fox can retrofit only the most popular programs outside the NCAA Tournament into this tournament in order to gin up viewership and marketing power. It can afford to host the tournament in Las Vegas to attract more corporate sponsorships and a larger live audience. But it doesn’t seem as if the tournament will truly tell college basketball fans anything about who was the best team.
A source told The Messenger creating this tourney will “open up more spots for mid-major schools to play in the NIT.” That may be true whether it’s PR spin or not, but it’s unclear who was asking for a third major postseason college basketball tournament outside of the executives at Fox.