WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball, said NCAA tournament expansion is “not necessarily” inevitable but the event’s officials have to consider the impact of the rapidly evolving climate in collegiate sports as they consider its future.
The Division I men’s basketball committee is currently weighing recommendations from the Division I transformation committee that could expand the NCAA tournament to up to 90 teams. Gavitt said there are no guarantees the men’s basketball tournament will expand from the current field of 68 teams but he said the postseason event has to remain “contemporary.”
“[The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee] is doing their due diligence to consider every perspective and every angle,” said Gavitt, who attended No. 2 Purdue’s 83-71 win over Xavier in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Monday. “It’s the national championship, right? You have to make sure the tournament is special as it’s always been and yet, you have to consider the changes and the things that are going on in the business — conference realignment — that may have some impact and need to be considered. The forward-looking way, rather than looking backwards.
“College athletics continues to evolve and it’s important to keep it contemporary.”
The NCAA recently announced changes to the NIT, which will now guarantee 12 spots from teams in the power conferences. Mid-major coaches and commissioners have been vocal in their criticism of the move.
Gavitt said he’s heard their “disappointment” but reiterated that the viability of the event, which could face competition from a new basketball postseason event as early as 2025, demanded those changes.
He also said he’s not concerned about Power 5 power-brokers making an attempt to shift the NCAA tournament in their favor or create their own event in the future.
“No concern from the committee’s perspective on that,” Gavitt said. “That particular angle hasn’t been a concern or considered in the process.”
Purdue and Xavier faced off Monday in the Gavitt Games, which were created to honor Dave Gavitt, the first Big East commissioner and Gavitt’s father. Per reports, this year’s Gavitt Games could be the final installment of the series, which began in 2015.
“You’ve got great programs, traditional programs, in incredible buildings like this,” Gavitt said. “To have games in November that matter this much, to sell out a place and keep traditions like this going, is great for college basketball and important.”