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Knight and the NIT

Michael at the Sports Law Blog has been following the NIT vs. NCAA case in these posts (1 & 2), and alerted readers to the potential spectacle of Bobby Knight testifying on the NIT's behalf. Surely that's fare for Court TV, but the USA Today report must suffice, for now.

The report indicates that Knight is his usual wacky self in the testimony. But here's one observation from Knight that got me thinking:

Under questioning from NIT attorney Jeffrey Kessler, Knight said he believed the NIT could compete with the NCAA in an open market. "Given the necessary amount of time -— two seasons, three seasons -— you would have two tournaments very, very close," Knight said.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in other countries with multiple knockout tournaments in operation, attention focuses on one tournament above the others. In England, the League Cup and the FA Cup have been in competition for years, and the former has been permanently saddled with second-class status, with games played by reserve squads before half-empty stadiums.

Having said that, consider the following. Suppose the NIT were restructured along the lines of the FA Cup, with early round games played on, say, each Tuesday beginning in mid-January, with all teams eligible to participate. A random draw, knockout competition could culminate somewhere in the neighborhood of the NCAA's regional finals, or perhaps the week after the Final 4. Would that be more successful than the current NIT? Probably. But the NCAA's exclusive rule precludes any team participating in its tournament from playing any other games that season, once the NCAA tournament starts.

The NCAA might lose this one (they make a regular habit of losing antitrust cases). And if the NIT were creative, we might have a new, interesting form of competition develop in college basketball.