Tubby on NCAA Expansion

TUBBY SMITH: I don't see any watering down at all. I just see a great opportunity for a number of student-athletes that can, I guess, share in this exciting time.

Q. On the expansion issue, understanding the fact that by and large you all favor the concept of an expanded field, one big concern is the 'watering down' of the tournament. If there are 32 additional teams, maybe eight of them go to mid- to lower-echelon conference champions that don't get in now, will they be, in your opinion, NCAA-caliber teams? Is there any concern at all about the 'watering down' effect?

TUBBY SMITH: Well, yeah, I don't see any watering down at all. I just see a great opportunity for a number of student-athletes that can, I guess, share in this exciting time.

It is an opportunity for them to travel and measure themselves against some of the better teams. There have been a number of upsets. We always talk about parity. There have been a number of teams, Butler, for example, Xavier, for example, they beat us. I know the BCS conferences, we have a lot of talented players, good coaches. But everyone has that throughout the country now.

I think the reduction in scholarships, you saw that happening. And the expansion to whatever, if it ever happens, certainly we are in favor of it. But I think, you know, there are a number of teams that could have gotten in that are playing in the NIT now.

So I think quite the contrary. I think more people are going to be excited. More people are going to be following March Madness. More people are going to be participating because there are going to be more teams in the NCAA.

ERNIE KENT: I feel the number of teams that have expanded in our association to date, when you talk about coaching teams, getting them to March Madness, seeing the excitement in the locker room, that's almost like a whole new season that starts all over again.

I don't think there's going to be a watering down. I think you give more people an opportunity to get excited about it, to get into it. Right now it's one of the best, if not the best, game that's out there. I don't think it gets any better than March Madness.

When you talk about watering it down, I don't see that at all. I see the opposite of that happening.

TUBBY SMITH: Since the expansion, we've gone to 347 Division I teams now, that play in Division I basketball, why not expand it? If that expansion is happening in that area, you know, I think it only stands to reason you should expand the tournament. That's how I see it.

Q. Can you all just talk about the different ideas for expansion. There's been talk of possibly 68 teams, 96. Is there one that you favor right now? Should it be a moderate expansion? What are your thoughts on that?

JIM HANEY: Again, I think generally if you were asking coaches, again, just from the self-preservation perspective, they would say, Whatever the higher number is, I'd be in favor of that, again, because it's very permanent. You're trying to keep your job, build a program. Any time you can make the NCAA tournament, whether it's 64 teams, 65 teams, 96 teams, it's something that you can look to with pride that you and your team have accomplished something, to participate in the NCAA championships.

But we haven't had any discussions regarding what the number should be or anything of that nature. Again, I think what's on the minds of our coaches really is to build their programs and get them as good as they can be to even have the opportunity to be considered to be in the tournament as an at-large team, so...


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