That new ruling has had an immediate impact on the Lady Vols. Coach Pat Summitt has added two teams to the schedule, giving Tennessee 29 regular-season games. The teams added: UT-Chattanooga and Arizona State.
The Lady Vols had dropped Arizona State when Sybil Dosty left the program, then transferred to Arizona State. But when the NCAA said you could play two more games, the Lady Vols decided to play the game at Tempe, Ariz.
Bruce Pearl's team is playing in the Preseason NIT, which is an exempt tournament. Exempt tournaments guarantee that you play at least two games.
Also, the NCAA is allowing the season to start a week earlier, which, this season, means Nov. 10.
CBS TO CARRY MORE SEC MEN'S GAMES
Mike Hamilton, UT men's athletic director, said CBS will feature nine SEC men's basketball teams for a total of 20 games.
The schedule of games hasn't been released, but UT knows its game against Ohio State will be televised. UT is hoping CBS will pick up a game against Texas, Oklahoma State or Memphis, although those games likely will be on ESPN.
BASEBALL, SOFTBALL TOURNAMENTS DIFFER
The SEC baseball tournament has a double-elimination format while the softball tournament is single elimination.
You would think for uniformity's sake, the two would be the same. Not so. SEC baseball coaches that make the conference tournament want to play at least two games. Softball coaches don't even want a tournament; they'd rather rest for the NCAA tournament. The compromise is to play single elimination.
The rest factor is interesting because a baseball pitcher needs more down time to recover than a softball pitcher.
On the other hand, Tennessee baseball coach Rod Delmonico, knowing he had a high NCAA tournament seed sowed up, rested his team in 2001, lost the first two games of the SEC tourney, then made it to the College World Series.
Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton said he would prefer the SEC baseball tournament expand to 10 teams and play single elimination. He said making the SEC tournament has become a measuring stick for success – or failure – and expanding the field could help coaches counter fan criticism.
WOMEN DON'T WANT DIVISIONAL PLAY
Joan Cronan, UT women's athletic director, said women's basketball does not want divisional play like men's basketball.
The men play each opponent within their division twice and each opponent in the other division once for a 16-game league schedule.
The women play each team at least once, then three other SEC teams twice, with one being a permanent opponent. Tennessee's permanent opponent is Vanderbilt. That's a 14-game SEC slate.
Cronan said the women, particularly Tennessee, want to play a national schedule and two more league games could interfere with that philosophy.
17 OF 20 UT SPORTS ADVANCED
Last year, 19 of Tennessee's 20 sports advanced to postseason competition.
The record isn't quite as sparkling this year.
Three men's sports – football, baseball, tennis – failed to make postseason play. Each women's sport made the postseason, meaning 17 of 20 sports competed for a championship.
GEORGIA PROPOSAL PASSES
The SEC passed a proposal by Georgia that would allow an athlete in another sport to play women's basketball provided the basketball team has a vacant scholarship.
Georgia women's coach Andy Landers made the proposal because his team suffered several injuries last season and he wanted a volleyball player to join his squad.
Under SEC rules, a multi-sport athlete must count against football or basketball scholarship numbers. If a scholarship athlete wants to move from an Olympic sport to football or basketball after the start of their college career, that athlete must count against football or basketball aid.
The SEC used to require an athlete moving from an Olympic sport to football or basketball to sit out two years. Now, the athlete can play women's basketball right away but would still have to wait to play football or men's basketball.
Cronan supported the measure.
Summitt did not.
``If you do that in women's basketball, why not men's basketball?'' Summitt argued. ``Why not football? You have a lot of guys that run track and play football. It's a big cross over.
``I just think you're opening a can of worms and people will take advantage of it.''