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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


NEW YORK (PAE) -- The call for change has finally been heard, and it's good news all around.

College sports, long a target of critics from coast to coast, has overhauled its championship format and will employ a new system beginning next season.

That's right; the NCAA men's basketball tournament will do away with the 64-team event that's been only mildly popular in recent years. Starting in 2009, national champions will be determined by computers and sportswriters the way they are in Division I football. Ahhh, sweet relief.

A news conference has been scheduled for 12:65 p.m. today to make the announcement formal.

"If we as leaders of such a popular sport claim that our sport is for the fans, it's time we heed their call," said an NCAA insider who requested anonymity because he has no business speaking publicly about the story. "The fans have spoken -- America has spoken -- and we've finally listened."

Division I basketball officials said they've observed the great success football has enjoyed over the last decade, what with allowing sports writers and computers to determine who plays in the BCS bowl games, including the season-ending championship game. It's time for basketball to move to the same system so there can be a "decisive, clear-cut champion," an athletic director from one top university said.

"I think the days of determining the champion on the court are over, and we couldn't be more pleased," the athletic director said. "It's 2008; we can admit that we should get with the times. It only makes sense to reward those teams who played weak schedules throughout the regular season by giving them the best chance to win a championship."

That's good news for college hockey marketers. The sport calls its final weekend the Frozen Four, but now can use the once trademarked Final Four on T-shirts and other paraphernalia. And isn't that what college sports are all about? Trademarked terminology, sponsorship and souvenir sales?

"We don't like to be so simplistic, but yes, we need to think about revenue opportunities for all involved," one university president said. "Well, all except the athletes themselves. I mean, that would be, like, fair, or something. And we certainly don't want that."

The formula for determining postseason matchups would be similar to that of football's BCS rankings, but exact calculating procedures have not been finalized. Using the current BCS math, however, shows that this weekend's Final Four would not consist of No. 1 seeds UCLA, Memphis, North Carolina and Kansas. Instead, we'd see Duke, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Butler, with Duke and Notre Dame the probable co-champs.

We wanted to hear from you, America, and the commentary has so far been quite interesting:

Bill S., from downtown Iowa, says: "Finally. I'm so tired of promoting inter-office camaraderie with those NCAA brackets. Now, without the tournament format, I can stay at my desk without any interruptions each day throughout the tournament, thus maximizing my productivity and increasing the likelihood of a promotion to middle management."

Susan T., from California, says: "It's still not fully settling things on paper, but it's a step in the right direction."

Neither Reality nor Logic could be reached for comment.



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