NCAA Makes 68-Team Field Official
The NCAA tournament's drive for 65 is now officially the great 68.
The Division I Board of Directors officially approved tournament expansion to 68 teams Thursday, making official the proposal put forward by the Division I Men's Basketball Committee one week earlier.
Board members cited the removal of what they called the "stigma" of the play-in game as a major reason for the mild expansion.
"Expanding to 68 teams gave us an opportunity to involve more teams in the championship, and in doing that, we were able to enhance the experience of the opening-round game," Board chair James Barker, president at Clemson, said in a statement released by the NCAA. "Expansion enables us to give more exposure to the universities and provide more opportunities for student-athletes."
The 68-team field will include four play-in games prior to the first round, though the exact format will be determined by the men's basketball committee and finalized in the next two months, according to the NCAA.
The NCAA first announced the 68-team format last Thursday, in conjunction with its latest multimedia rights deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting that will run through 2024. The NCAA will earn more than $10.8 billion during the lifetime of the deal.
Expansion will begin with the upcoming 2011 tournament.