College athletics, long the haunt of elite programs where decades worth of heritage, recruiting imbalances, and more than a few shenanigans create a stranglehold on a particular sport, could be getting significantly more lopsided in favor of the big guys.*
We turn our attention to basketball, where Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky and their like can soon book semi-permanent hotel rooms in Winston-Salem, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis and other near-home venues if the competition committee approves the most recent proposal by the ad hoc rules committee:
The top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament will get a say in where it opens up March Madness in the future. That proposal was among those considered by the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ ad hoc group that was formed last month to offer perspective to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee, and it received approval according to a release from the NCAA.
Leading up to the tournament, teams in contention for the No. 1 overall seed will communicate their preferences for first- and second-round sites as well as regional sites “in a process to be determined.”
Theoretically, I have no problem with rewarding the nation's number one seed with a geographic preference -- hard work should be rewarded. What, do you think I'm some filthy commie?
In practice, however, there is a difference between a playoff, which generally does geographically benefit the best teams, and a tournament, which tries to have as neutral a footing as possible. Besides that, tournaments and playoffs both already reward the better teams by (theoretically, at least) giving competitive preference to the top seeds with supposedly lesser opponents.
Still, no matter how this proposal is couched, this is hard to swallow for the other 300+ teams competing in Division One basketball -- this rule will benefit the richest of the rich, and the benefits will inure to only a handful of elite programs in most years.
What do we think, fam?
* Don't get me wrong, as an alum of football's most elite program, I love kicking the s*** out of scrappy underdogs. This is not a venue for parity or little guys. Long live the oligarchs. Roll Tide.