NCAA committee recommendation would expand basketball tournaments to 90 teams

A recommendation by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee issued Tuesday would expand the NCAA basketball tournaments to 90 teams.

The committee tasked with finding “opportunities to modernize college sports” issued several recommendations in a 39-page report, most notably the expansion of postseason tournaments. From the report, the committee issued the following recommendation:

Accommodate access for 25% of active Division I members in good standing in team sports sponsored by more than 200 schools.

This would include both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments and expand both fields. Each tournament currently invites 68 teams. There are 358 Division I men’s basketball programs and 350 women’s programs. A field of 25% would break down to roughly 90 teams for each tournament, assuming the NCAA would seek to keep both fields the same size.

An NCAA committee is recommending significant expansion of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Tuesday’s recommendation is strictly that — a recommendation. It will go to the Division I board of directors for consideration at next week’s NCAA convention. Expansion would also require approval of each sport’s governing body. The committee called for final recommendations to be made by January 2024 in time to be implemented for the 2024-25 seasons.

The committee is co-chaired by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer and includes 19 other members from various NCAA programs and conferences. Among other items, the committee also recommended that schools provide post-college medical coverage for injured athletes alongside mental health and career support entailed by:

• At least two years of medical coverage after college or the completion of their athletic career if they sustain an athletically related injury
• Mental health treatment and services in accordance with recognized best practices
• Degree completion funds for ten years, should they choose to step away from their studies before reaching graduation, before eventually deciding to return
• Academic, career and life skills counseling so that they are given every resource needed to make informed decisions about their minds, bodies, careers, and finances.

The committee also recommended that each institution’s athletic department hire a full-time staff member focused on “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.” It also recommended reconsidering the FBS membership requirement of an attendance average of 15,000 fans per game “while focusing on other elements that more directly link the student-athlete experience to expectations for FBS membership criteria.”

The full report can be seen here.

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