The sponsors of the National Invitation Tournament are proposing a 16-team preseason NIT next year in order to keep the 32-team postseason tournament on financially solid ground, Jack Kaiser, the athletic director at St. John's University, reported today.
In order for the tournament to be played and its games not counted against a team's 28-game regular-season limit, the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association, sponsor of the NIT, has proposed a change in NCAA rules to be voted on in January at the NCAA convention in Nashville.
Under the proposed format, 16 schools would be invited annually. The first two rounds would be played at a neutral regional site on Thanksgiving weekend. The semifinals and final would be in Madison Square Garden the following Friday and Sunday.
No school could appear more than once every three years, and no conference could have more than one team in the tournament each year.
Even though the NIT made money last season, with total attendance of more than 250,000, the expansion of the NCAA tournament from 48 to 64 teams cost the NIT approximately $200,000 in television rights, according to Kaiser.
Reaction to the proposal was mixed among coaches and other officials attending today's Big East media day at the New York Penta Hotel.
Coach John Thompson of defending national champion Georgetown said he personally opposes such a tournament. Thompson long has believed in bringing his team along slowly and frequently has not decided on his lineup and substitution pattern until January.