Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart calls for reform in NCAA tourney selection process

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart released an open letter Monday regarding the NCAA Tournament selection process.

The opinion piece calls for more transparency and other reforms in the seeding process a day after the Wildcats were given a No. 4 seed in the East Region after winning both the SEC regular-season title and the league tournament championship on Sunday in Nashville. 

Despite its 82-77 win over Texas A&M, UK were seeded one line under the Aggies, who picked up a No. 3 in the West Region. 

If the Cats win their opening-round game against Stony Brook, there's a possibility they could play Big Ten champion Indiana, the No. 5 seed, in the Round of 32. Many national observers have pointed to that potential scenario as one of the worst seeding issues in the field. 

The following is Barnhart's open letter to the NCAA...

Our NCAA Tournament draw has, suffice to say, been quite the topic of conversation over the last 24 hours. On that subject, I agree with and fully support our coach.

Rather than breaking down brackets and making our case, I believe it’s more productive to look ahead. In short, I believe the process of selecting NCAA Tournament teams must be both more transparent and more standardized. The Selection Committee has made progress by revealing the S-Curve after the bracket is announced, but it should consider following the lead of the College Football Playoff Committee and release updates prior to Selection Sunday.

Even more importantly, the criteria used must be specifically outlined and prioritized, consistently applied, and clearly communicated. This would eliminate all doubt about what coaches must do in scheduling and what teams must do during the season to reach the tournament.

Cal and I have spoken about this topic and, in fact, he suggested these ideas to the Selection Committee in person a year ago. We agree wholeheartedly: The days of moving targets from year to year in the way teams are evaluated must end. The NCAA Tournament is one of the great events in sports. We have a responsibility to get it right.

The one thing about our draw that I do want to specifically address is where we will play. I hurt for our fans, who will have a more difficult time getting tickets because we will play in Des Moines and potentially Philadelphia. Their unmatched passion was on display again this weekend in the way they supported us in Nashville and it’s unfortunate they won’t have the best possible opportunity to follow us.

The good news is we still have games to play, no matter the venue or draw. There are never any guarantees in March, but I believe we have a team that can go deep. Let’s go do it.

‘til the Battle is Won,

Mitch Barnhart

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