Commentary

All teams should be invited to the Dance

Updated: April 1, 2011, 10:57 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I cannot believe that I am writing this. I never thought I would feel this way. I used to believe that the NCAA men's basketball tournament was for the crème de la crème, the elite teams that deserved to be rewarded for a phenomenal season.

Studying and analyzing what has happened with VCU has changed me. After watching VCU's brilliant performance and response at tournament time under the leadership of Shaka Smart, and a bunch of kids who believed, it is time to consider a change.

I still feel, as did my colleague Jay Bilas on Selection Sunday, that the résumé of the Rams did not measure up to those of Alabama and Colorado. It is now all about what VCU has done in the tournament: taking advantage of the opportunity and responding in a positive way.

It is time to provide a remedy for the problem. Every year we hear critiques of the selection committee. Many of the guys don't have a basketball background, which is all right because they have a love and passion for college athletics. They would not serve on the committee individually if they didn't. That is a given.

Let's eliminate all of the nonsense and all of the talk. Perhaps we can make some more money for the NCAA and give it back to the student-athletes. Everybody in coaching and administrators like the new president of the NCAA are getting enormous salaries. This is America and you should make what you can make, though I feel kids should get part of that pot.

The pressure is so intense in the revenue-producing sports. It is time to give those kids something more since they don't have time to hold down a job.

We can make all of this easier. Just let all of the Division I teams eligible to compete into the tourney. Let's have the selection committee changed into a seeding committee and rank the teams into a bracket.

Let's take into account what teams have done during the regular season, making that meaningful. The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) is going wild right now. It has never said anything like this before. Yes it could hurt Championship Week but it would be worth it for the Big Dance.

Teams will be trying to win their conference tournament as a goal and the outcome would affect seeding in the tourney, so it would still be special.

The idea of letting everyone in guarantees the inclusion of teams like Wichita State, Alabama, Virginia Tech, Saint Mary's and Colorado that may have belonged in the field of 68. Give them a chance to do what VCU has done.

Give them an opportunity. Isn't that what America is all about? If you open it up to everyone there will be no crying or screaming.

That could get rid of my gig on Selection Sunday, baby! Let's start this column over and forget what I said. Just kidding.

People would be screaming about the seeding. That's OK because everyone would get to go out and play hoops and compete.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.