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Story Archives: March Madness needs changing
|March Madness needs changing|
OK, it's a road I have traveled down many times in the past.
And I'm beginning to understand that nobody is listening.
But can you hear me now?
I've long argued about the NCAA process of those basketball teams winning their conference tournaments getting an automatic bid.
It's a marathon, not a sprint.
I've also argued about some of the conferences that receive automatic bids.
I love the SWAC, I followed it for 30-plus years and some of my favorite memories are of going to Lorman, Grambling, Jackson and Baton Rouge for SWAC contests.
But the SWAC is one of a few conferences that does not deserve automatic bid at this time.
The SWAC had Alcorn win its play-in game in 1984 and lose to Kansas by one point in the first round.
In 1993, the Southern University men's basketball team defeated the fourth-seeded Georgia Tech, 93-78, during the NCAA Tournament.
But otherwise they've been a sacrificial lamb for Duke, Connecticut, North Carolina, Syracuse and other overall No. 1 seeds.
I've never understood why a team's record at the end of a long season in which they win their league does not count more than possibly a five-game winning streak at the end of the year.
OK, if that team is hot and deserves to get win, put them in by invitation, not because they won their tournament.
Last year, Jackson State beat UAPB twice during the regular season and went 17-1 in the SWAC.
They deserved more consideration than Arkansas-Pine Bluff. And what happened.
This year, Texas Southern won the SWAC regular season, but Alabama State won the SWAC Tournament.
Alabama State lost to Texas-San Antonio 70-61 in a play-in game before Texas-San Antonio was run over by Ohio State.
Texas Southern lost to Colorado in a first-round NIT contest.
But it is not just the SWAC.
The Mid-Eastern Conference has had 30 bids and Coppin State has made the final 32 once, but otherwise it's one-and-done.
The Northeast Conference had Monmouth win a play-in game.
The Southern Conferene had Davidson reached 2008 otherwise nothing from 39 bids.
The Southland Conference had Lamar ins 1980 reach the Final 16, otherwise, thanks for playing.
Why am I bringing this all back up again (besides the fact it's that slow time of year)?
Because the NCAA just banned Grambling, Jackson State and Southern from postseason play in football next season, citing poor classroom performance by all three schools and a host of others in the Southwestern Athletic and Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences.
The NCAA released the penalties as it disclosed the details of its latest Academic Progress Rate report.
Southern became the first school to be banned from the postseason in two sports in the same year — football and men's basketball — because of academic performance.
The impact of the penalties could have a major impact on the SWAC and MEAC, both of which get automatic bids to the NCAA basketball tournaments.
SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp told NCAA.org that turnover in school staff — including school presidents — hurts academic performance.
I think another problem is poor leadership at the top.
Folks like Dr. James Frank and Lonza Hardy are no longer running the ship. They would not have tolerated this.
Texas Southern, which played for last year's SWAC football title, must give up nearly 15 football scholarships, while Jackson State lost half a dozen. Both of those schools will have their practice time reduced.
The 13-member MEAC, is taking a similar hit, minus the bans.
Delaware State is losing nine football scholarships, North Carolina A&T is losing three and both schools must contend with new practice limitations, too.
The punishments could be just as debilitating in basketball.
Coppin State will lose four scholarships, while Norfolk State is losing two. Those two schools, along with Morgan State, also face practice reductions.
And Mississippi Valley State and Southern will each lose two scholarships in basketball.
Grambling will have one scholarship taken away, too.
The total count: Five teams in each of those two leagues will take big hits from the NCAA.
But they will still receive automatic bids. That's just not fair to teams such as Mississippi State who were overlooked last year because they got caught in the numbers game and would have been much more competitive and deserving.
It's also a slap in the face to folks like Eddie Robinson, Davey Whitney, W.C. Gorden and Ben Jobe, former SWAC coaches who demanded excellence from their players on and off the court.
Not to mention folks like Marino Casem and Andy Stoglin.
The SWAC and MEAC need to get their acts together.
Or else they no longer need to be part of the play, better known as NCAA March Madness.
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