Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CBS, NCAA execs discuss NCAA Tournament's future

Plus exclusive interviews with CBS broadcasters Verne Lundquist, Dick Enberg, Bill Raftery and more.

CBS, NCAA execs discuss NCAA Tournament's future

NEW YORK - CBS' NCAA Tournament media day is important in and of itself. But yesterday's event was an even bigger deal than usual, because NCAA basketball chief Greg Shaheen and Selection Committee chairman Dan Guerrero were in attendance.

Shaheen, Guerrero and CBS Sports president Sean McManus all had very interesting things to say about the future of the NCAA Tournament - especially with regards to tournament expansion and broadcast rights.

You'll find excerpts of what Shaheen and McManus had to say below. There's audio of their full remarks in the player at the bottom of the post, as well as an exclusive interview I did with Guerrero afterwards.

In addition to the newsmakers above, I got to talk to some of CBS' top NCAA Tournament announcers. It was a real treat to be able to pick the brains of some of the most famous people in sports broadcasting about the best month of the year in college basketball.

In the audio player you'll find interviews with Bill Raftery, Verne Lundquist, Mike Gminski, Tim Brando, Seth Davis and Dick Enberg.

You'll especially want to hear where Lundquist ranks last season's Villanova-Pittsburgh East Regional Final among the best games he's ever called.

The full list of people talking in the first track is, in order of appearance: Sean McManus; senior vice president and general manager of CBS Interactive Jason Kint; CBS College Sports Executive Vice President Steve Herbst; Greg Shaheen; Dan Guerrero; Jim Nantz; Clark Kellog; and Greg Anthony.

Here's a rundown of the news items from the event:

- To the surprise of no one, the first questions asked of Sean McManus and Greg Shaheen were about NCAA Tournament expansion and whether the tournament would remain with CBS.

Quotes from McManus

Our plan is to carry the NCAA Tournament on CBS as long as we can. We're focused right now on this year and not on next year. As far as expansion of the tournament is concerned, that's something that Greg Shaheen would address. We really are focused on this year's tournament. I don't like to think about anything but this year's tournament right now. ...

I think we have a history at CBS of keeping the events that we want to keep on our network. We've always done a good job of renewing the rights, and I would like to think that would follow through to the NCAA Tournament.

When we have an event that we like on CBS Sports, I think the track record's pretty good about figuring out a way - whether it's the NFL, or SEC football, or the Masters, or the PGA Championship, or U.S. Open Tennis. We've been pretty successful at keeping those marquee events where I think they belong, which is on CBS.

Quotes from Shaheen

At this point, we are under contract to have the championship with CBS for another three years after this year. That's our plan as well. Everything related to what's happening with the championship, that relates to where it may be broadcast, how it may be broadcast, how many teams will participate - all of that is just part of a due diligence exercise that we've had under way for several months. ...

Contrary to what you've read on various blogs and the like, there's nothing that's a done deal or decided at this point in time. We're full steam ahead with our agreement with CBS through 2013. ...

Shaheen on whether this is the last year of the NIT:

Not that I'm aware of. We have an office and a lease here that we are intending to continue in that regard.

Other things we learned yesterday:

- The announcing crews are Jim Nantz and Clark Kellog; Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas; Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery; Gus Johnson and Len Elmore; Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner; Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel; Tim Brando and Mike Gminski; and Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel. Dedes is new to CBS; he called the UCLA-Arizona State game this past Saturday. But those of you with longer memories might remember Dedes from this game he called at the Palestra a few years back.

- Lundquist and Raftery will call the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game Sunday afternoon. Tip time is 1:00 p.m. at Boardwalk Hall.

- Once again this year, CBS College Sports will have out-of-market exclusivity on the 4:00 p.m. Eastern first round timeslot. There's a change this year, though, as there will be games in that timeslot on both Thursday and Friday. Both western venues, San Jose and Spokane, are in the Pacific time zone.

- CBS will broadcast the Final Four and National Championship games in 3-D in select movie theaters across the country. I do not have a list of theaters that will carry the broadcast, but I can tell you that the 3-D feed will have a separate announcing crew: Dave Ryan and Steve Lappas.

Thanks to CBS for putting on a great event. I'll be back at noon for live blogging from the Big East Tournament second round. We've got four games to take in, and I'll be focusing on the 2:30 p.m. matchup between St. John's and Marquette. The winner will face Villanova on Thursday.

St. John's looked pretty good in its blowout win over Connecticut, but the Huskies didn't play well. Now the Red Storm look to take down another bubble team, and given how easily they won yesterday they should have a decent amount of energy left in the tank.

It will also be worth watching South Florida-Georgetown, which tips off at noon. A win by the Bulls could put them in the NCAA Tournament, while a win for the Hoyas would give them a badly-needed dose of momentum in a season that has quickly gone in the wrong direction.



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Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

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