If you are a struggling former college basketball power, a once traditional top 25 program, a highly respected mid-major, or just a program wanting to take a Gonzaga type leap into the national spotlight, I feel accepting a bid to the NIT or CBI tournaments is the wrong message to send to your program. College Athletic Directors (AD) should take a stand in accepting mediocrity for their basketball programs or spawning any acceptance of mediocre seasons by participating in these illegitimate college basketball postseasons. A real message can be sent to your players, athletic department, coaching staff, and fan-base by rejecting an invitation to the NIT/CBI.
Ten years ago the NIT was relatively new in the TV/fans eyes with many games being solid sell-outs throughout America’s college campuses but this decade most students shy away from attending an NIT tournament games. Most NIT games and especially CBI matchups are played in front of sparse crowds. Maybe it gives the networks some decent ratings (I have my doubts) but I have severe feelings about the NIT being profitable enough to justify the manpower involved in hosting and displaying these games on television. Even the NCAA tournament has issues with selling out its early round games but at least a team has an opportunity to advance in the legitimate tournament and play in sold-out later round games. Oh, and did I mention the NCAA Tournament is the real postseason (just thought I need to reinforce that)?
To take your program or return your program to desired standards, AD’s should refuse to give into temptation and allow their basketball squads the supposed reward of playing beyond the regular season. If a team couldn’t put together a decent enough regular season or win the conferences post-season tournament to get invited to the NCAA tournament, then there should be no harm instilling required winning standards upon a team by keeping them home in March. Some proponents compare the NIT to a lower tier football bowl and prescribe it to add the same benefits for a basketball squad. In allowing a college football team to attend a lower tier bowls though, it is beneficial for it allows more practice to break in younger players and institute new playing strategies. College basketball’s post season fails to supply any real added benefit with more practices. College football has more players involved and a more complex system that further practice benefits. Basketball does not gain such similar advantages. I’m sure it would help but missing the NIT isn’t detrimental to a basketball team.
Therefore, if you’re an AD in Champaign or Palo Alto, you might want to make a stand if your once elite programs fail to make the NCAA tournament (though Bruce Webber seems to be making me eat crow this season) this year. A coach should not provide the excuse for a solid season by proclaiming success due to entering the NIT or CBI. If the goal for a football program is to make a bowl, then the goal for a college basketball program should be the NCAA tournament…no exceptions.