2024 NCAA Tournament logo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For those who’ve been clamoring to see the NCAA men’s basketball tournament expand, your payoff may be near.

Now, the big question: Will CBS and Turner Sports, which hold tournament broadcast rights, fork over more money for an expanded field?

Yahoo Sports reported that NCAA officials presented two tournament expansion proposals to Division 1 conference commissioners Wednesday, to add either four or eight teams to the current 68-team field. That expansion could happen as soon as the 2025-26 season.

Fans have had mixed thoughts on the idea of expanding the tournament. The driving force is commissioners from major conferences such as the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC, who have seen some of their elite programs miss the field in recent years because of automatic bids going to minor conference champions.

According to the plan, the NCAA would keep the popular 64-team bracket but would add play-in games involving the 10-12 seeds.

CBS and Turner signed an $8.8 billion extension in 2016 to retain NCAA tournament rights through 2032. According to a Sports Business Journal report in April, the networks do not have an escalator clause in their contract and would not have to pay more if the field is expanded.

It’s a good deal for the networks, which earn additional revenue from additional games, even if the NCAA doesn’t financially benefit. However, the major conference commissioners and athletic directors pushing for an expansion may not be concerned about that issue.

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark told Yahoo Sports earlier this year, “I want to see the best teams competing for a national championship, no different than (the Big Ten and SEC) want to see in football. I’m not sure that is currently happening.”

There were plenty of complaints when the 2024 tournament field was announced, with media, fans, coaches, and players complaining about teams that got snubbed. Rick Pitino called out the NCAA’s NET rankings as “fraudulent” after his St. John’s Red Storm were left out of the tournament.

Of course, adding four or eight teams, or even an extra 64 teams, for that matter, would not put an end to all the talk about snubs; it would merely transfer the discussion to another group of teams. The gist of Wednesday’s news is that the NCAA is heading full speed ahead on the tournament expansion front — regardless of whether they get paid for the extra games or not.

[Yahoo Sports]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.