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Report: Fox Sports in talks to host new postseason college basketball tournament

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber09/11/23

College hoops insider Seth Davis reported Monday morning that Fox Sports is attempting to arrange a new postseason basketball tournament in Las Vegas for teams who miss the Big Dance.

Here was that report:

“Fox Sports is in negotiations with several power conferences to hold a postseason men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas featuring teams that did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, multiple sources told The Messenger,” wrote Davis.

“Discussions are ongoing, but the current vision is for the event to include 16 teams that would play at T-Mobile Arena during the final week of March following the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight games,” he added.

Plus, there will be plenty of NIL opportunities for the players who do participate.

“If the tournament happens, Fox plans to encourage its corporate partners to set up Name, Image and Likeness deals for players who are competing.”

However, Davis notes that “the network will not be able to pay players directly due to NCAA rules.”

Big 12, Big Ten and Big East teams ‘required’ to play

As for the field itself, Seth Davis reports that top teams from the Big 12, Big Ten and Big East who do not qualify for the NCAA Tournament would be required to play in this new event.

“Under terms of the proposed arrangement, the top 16 teams in the Big 12, Big East and Big Ten that did not qualify for the NCAA tournament  — as ranked by the NET — would be required to play in the Fox event even if they are invited to the NIT.”

The same could be true for the Pac-12, who Fox also has a TV rights agreement with. But that has yet to be decided given the fluid nature of the conference.

“The network also has a rights agreement with the Pac-12, but it is unclear whether that league would be added due to complications arising from the Pac-12’s impending realignment defections.”

NCAA President Charlie Baker pushes back

Davis further reported that talks to begin this new tournament began during last season but stalled when NCAA president Charlie Baker asked conference commissioners to “back away” from the proposal.

“Discussions about this new postseason tournament began during the 2022-23 season and have been led by Fox Sports’ executive vice president Jordan Bazant, who joined the network in early 2022 after spending the previous six years as the co-head of WME Sports.

“Bazant hosted a Zoom call over the summer with power conference commissioners and staff members, including those from the ACC and SEC, but sources said those efforts stalled when newly hired NCAA president Charlie Baker asked the commissioners to back away from Fox’s proposal.”

Hopefully, the event gets completed. With roughly a week in between the final Elite Eight game and the first Final Four matchup, us basketball-starved fans could have a new event to watch in the meantime.