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  • Writer's pictureDavid Siroty


Selection Sunday brought euphoria to 68 teams when they found out they would be “dancing” into the NCAA Tournament. But the ones that are not selected to “dance,” understandably experience disappointment and several other emotions. Some teams that are not selected to be a part of the NCAA Tournament receive a phone call from the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), receiving an invitation to play in that tournament.

This year’s NIT selection process was historic, as for various reasons, 17 schools turned down the invitation to play in the tournament. During the past few weeks, I read the same question several times on various social media platforms from college basketball pundits and fans: What’s the big deal about not playing in the NIT?” While on the surface, it may not seem that the 17 schools who turned down the invitation to play in the NIT missed out on several opportunities on the court and off, they did.

Although most people associate the month of March with the NCAA Tournament, because of its exciting nature, and the inevitable upsets, the NIT provides the same excitement and can also possess the inevitable upsets. Furthermore, the team with the higher seed in the rounds before the semifinals, are rewarded with a home game. This gives the host school one, or several more opportunities, to benefit financially from these games. When fans come into the building, they have already spent money on tickets, and the game day atmosphere, gives the host school the chance to open their concession stands and sell apparel. If you are a loyal fan of either school playing in the game, no matter what the circumstance, you will support your school in any way possible. As the famous line in the movie “Field of Dreams” says, “If you build it, they will come.”

The players, coaches, and administration also benefit from their athletic team playing additional games. Some of the players want to play basketball professionally, whether in the NBA or overseas. The NIT provides the chance to have their games televised on TV or on a different network. For example, Seton Hall University men’s basketball games, are primarily broadcasted on the Fox family of networks. All the NIT games are broadcasted on the ESPN family of networks. Getting the opportunity to have your team’s games broadcasted on different networks may provide athletes with the opportunity to have a different audience watch them play. This can also be beneficial to players who are interested in transferring to a different school, because several coaching staffs watch NIT games.

Let’s face reality, college sports are currently in an era where a school is looking for any competitive or financial advantage. This is especially true because of the fact that players can now benefit from their Name Image and Likeness (NIL). How can a school expect fans to donate their money, and to NIL collectives, if they are not given the chance to watch their team play in a postseason tournament, solely based on an administrative decisions?

If you still have questions on whether a team should play in the NIT, ask Seton Hall what winning the NIT did for their men’s basketball program and school.

What do you think?

Anthony Bonelli writes on college sports for Front Porch Athletics

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