State Tournament Needs An Overhaul - The Idea

The NIAA State Basketball Tournament is in big trouble. We have 10 teams that are up in Reno this week. Two of today's games may have no more than 50 people in the stands with it being all South matchups. We have asked Coaches and Adminstrators their thoughts about reducing the State Tournament. NSN has been able to attract $16,000 in Sponsorship of a 2 year deal to put the 8 team men /women basketbal tournaments in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena. Here is the proposal we would give to the NIAA.

Why is it that Washington, Oregon, Utah and Arizona have 16 team double elimination basketball tournaments and we do not? The first answer would be money, the second being no future planning.

In these State's, the State Tournaments are played at one venue for each State Classification. Part of the reason Lawlor is not working is we are trying to throw one large party for the NIAA and we are not trying to grow our tournaments. The South sends up 10 teams this year and 12 teams the next year. In the same year's the North would send 6 and 4 teams respectfully. The cost savings is to move the State Tournament to the South! Seems too easy doesn't it?

We have been trying to say that we should not send teams who do not finish 2nd? These other States send more than one seed per conference. Is a 3rd place team in the North sometimes better than a #1 South seed in girls hoops - yes. Does the NCAA Tournament invite more than a conference winner to the field of 64? Yes. Basketball is different than football and should not be pigeonholed into the same set of playoff circumstances.

Simple fact is that we have the sponsorship dollars that would cover the travel costs of Northern Teams to Las Vegas. The South schools would need to prove that they would actually attend the State Tournament to make the NIAA feel easier about hosting at the Orleans Arena. This venue is the perfect size and would be big time enough to fit in the NIAA Budget. Our recommendation is to play the 4 A Tournament at the Orleans Arena, with a consolation bracket. Teams would get at least two games at State. Once you lose, you are out of the hunt for the Championship. Now it is about trying to get young kids time and to leave the year on the right foot. There has not been one Administrator or Coach who has not agreed that this was a good idea.

The 2 and 1 A can go out on their own and have people bid on hosting the event. They have more money that could be kicked in by doing it this way. Winnemucca has been named as a potential site. Let them organize their tournament. If the 3 A wants to go to the 4 A venue - fine let them. But, hosting the tournament in one location is a thing of the past. It will not save the current format nor help grow the tournament.

We also have the factor of the NIAA needing to get a new title sponsor to replace US Bank. If reducing the tournament is to save money, it also hurts the chance of a new title sponsor coming on board. They need basketball as a marquis event with plenty of media coverage. A 4 team event will not accomplish this.- Carson

There are those who will say, if you do this for basketball, than you have to do it for all other sports. I disagree. Basketball is a money maker. Basketball is concentrated and provides a larger media opportunity than does any other sport. If you want State Golf and Swimming to have the same style tournament, where are the people who are willing to contribute to make this happen? If private business are willing to make a commitment, than they should go to the NIAA sign a promisary note and move forward on a two year deal. If not they have no leg to stand on.

The move of the 4A State Basketball Tournament also would mean that Football would stay in Reno for 2 years. This makes more sense in the long run. It is an even travel swap.

The fact is that if the NIAA makes a move to reduce the State Tournament, they will be unlikely to move it back to an 8 team event anytime soon. We would be the lone state going backwards in a region of high school sports that are moving forward.

Mock all you want about how few South people are missing work to see Valley and Palo Verde play today. Move the game to Vegas and we have a different story. The largest media market would need to actually be worked. Right now so little work is being put towards getting the media behind high school sports, again we continue to move backwards. Damon Seiters and the Review Journal are told by the NIAA of what games are going to be broadcast, he refuses to print any information in the newspaper. This is not the right way to go.

The deal is put on the table - NIAA take this money and use it to save your event. In two year we will see where we are and if 8 teams still works. If the tournament is adjusted it can and will work. If we continue on at the same pace, we are asking for trouble for the long term growth of high school sports in Nevada.

I urge every Administrator to look towards public contributions to save your events. When they exist take them and make the most of it.

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