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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is the most important person when it comes to the future of collegiate athletics. Adding Texas and Oklahoma to the league was the single biggest realignment move that led college athletics into its new era of name, image, and likeness, the transfer portal, and other amateurism. He created both a power hungry and the beginning of a professional-like atmosphere in the country.
But, there are mixed reviews on one of his latest proposals. In August, Sankey suggested an expanded NCAA College Basketball Tournament of 80 teams, up from a current 68 team bracket. It would include four first four brackets (play-in games) instead of the current first four model (here’s the current NCAA Tournament model in the last 2023 ESPN off-season projected bracketology). Sankey and his colleagues have already ruined the Olympic sports and the amount of travel they have to do, so many rivalries, and every college sport outside of football. Football is the only thing that brings in money and most diehard fans understand that. Please do not ruin a sport that does not matter to you. It is a close to perfect way to determine a champion and most of the time top seeds win it all in April.
For context, Greg Sankey told Sports Illustrated “If the last team in can win the national championship, and they’re in the 30s or 40s from an RPI or NET standpoint, is our current approach supporting national championship competition? I think there’s health in that conversation. That doesn’t exclude people. It goes to: how do we include people in these annual national celebrations that lead to a national champion?”. Sankey is not thinking about the teams from the mid-major conferences like the Missouri Valley or West Coast conferences. He wants to more teams to get in from what will become the Power 2, the Big Ten and his conference, the SEC. He’s worried about how one of his conference members, Texas A&M did not reach the field last season, majorly because their only case was an appearance in the SEC Tournament Championship. Texas A&M played a weak non conference schedule last season but with a 96-team field, the Aggies would have easily made the field. Sankey wants more teams in the tournament which will bring in more money from the conference.
No fans want to watch teams worse than Texas A&M continue to play in March. No one wants a tournament that begins the second week of March and ends a month plus longer.
I can understand wanting a better shot at the SEC’s first national championship since 2012 (Kentucky) with more teams from the conference in the tournament. But, hurting a sport, conferences, and schools that will not bring in the revenue football will does not make much sense.