Pac-12 Commissioner Proposed Limiting College Basketball to One Semester


There has been a lot of discussion over the past month or so about the idea of moving the college basketball season to start later. The basic idea of the plan, proposed by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, is to move the start of the NCAA Basketball to after the winter holiday so that the entire season is contained within one school semester. There are several advantages and disadvantage to shifting the college basketball schedule.

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  • Those who agree with changing the start date for college basketball note several advantages to beginning later in the year and putting college basketball on the same schedule as other NCAA spring sports. The main advantage Scott provides is that moving the date will help increase the popularity of the sport by avoiding overlap with other professional sporting events, including the NFL and NCAA Football regular seasons, the start of the NBA season (which kicked off earlier this week), and the MLB playoffs (currently in the World Series). Starting the season in December will also make the season more compact to fit everything in one semester.

    The main disadvantage of moving the start of the college basketball season is that you will lose the huge popularity of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, pushing it back to May or June after the semester is over and classes have ended. In the 2014 Harris poll, college basketball was the 7th most popular sport in the US following the NFL, MLB, NCAA football, racing, NBA, and the NHL, however March Madness is what makes NCAA Basketball unique to any other sporting league and dominates the ratings at that time of the year with millions of people watching and filling out brackets. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany also notes that moving the tournament later will also begin to conflict with the NBA Playoffs, the start of the MLB season, and the Master’s Golf tournament.

    Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski also gave his opinion on the issue, and he doesn’t believe the starting date for college basketball should change saying in an interview with ESPN: “We’re talking about the Masters and when other sports are? We do represent NCAA institutions, and the thing that happens in late spring is called exams. For us, our school year ends the last week of April. I’m sure that’s the case with others. Is that when you want the tournament? I would take a look at the academic calendars. When are the exams in the first semester, the second semester? I would take a look at how many schools are involved in that. I haven’t heard anyone mention that.”

    The NCAA has done a more recently to promote the popularity of college basketball early in the season. One example is the Champions Classic, which is an early-season event featuring some of the top NCAA Men’s Basketball programs Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State held this year on 11/13. This season the Blue Devils will face-off against UK in what should be a great match-up between two young teams in Duke’s 3rd game of the year. This match-up will be extra intriguing because of the history between the two schools featuring one of the greatest games and plays in college basketball history.

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    Additionally, the in-season tournaments have helped boost the sports popularity early in the season. Duke will compete in the 2015 2K Classic at the very start of the year hosting Siena and Bryant, but will head to Madison Square Garden in New York City to play against VCU on 11/20 and possibly advance to play the winner of Georgetown-Wisconsin, possibly setting up a 2015 National Championship Game rematch between the Blue Devils and the Badgers which would be a huge game for a majority of sports fans around the country after their contest in April became the most-watched championship game in the last 18 years and the most watched basketball game period “since Michael Jordan’s last year with the Bulls”.

    While there may be some advantages to changing the start date of the college basketball season later, it seems much more plausible to leave it how it is at the moment. Changing the schedule doesn’t seem to provide any significant advantages to the sport or the student-athletes, and the NCAA will not be in any rush to move it soon. Also what about women’s basketball? The preseason is winding down for the Duke men’s team as they host the Division II champs Florida Southern in an exhibition game tonight and another one against Livingstone on Wednesday before hosting Siena on Nov. 13th to kick-off the regular season.