Preseason tournaments looking to fill their slots

Updated: September 9, 2003, 8:49 AM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

College basketball teams will be scrambling to adjust and finish their schedules for the 2003-04 season after the 2-in-4 rule limiting exempted events was put back in place by a judge in Ohio on Wednesday.

The rule was removed when a federal judge in Columbus issued a permanent injunction last month. But the NCAA announced Wednesday that it had won a stay on the permanent injunction in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Judge Leonard Green said in his ruling that the status quo should be maintained.

Here we go again. The courts have overturned a previous ruling which would have stricken the NCAA's two-in-four rule prohibiting schools from participating in more than two exempt tournaments over a four-year period.

To me, this would be a disaster. It would eliminate opportunities for the David vs. Goliath scenarios that have created excitement in college basketball in recent years. It would have a serious effect on smaller schools trying to improve their RPI, which influences the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Smaller schools deserve the opportunity to compete because the big boys won't go for home-and-home series. More...

The 2-in-4 rule limits schools to two tournaments in a four-year period. But the plaintiffs in the case, the organizers of these tournaments, complained that there weren't enough marquee teams to fill their events.

Organizers for the events are trying to overturn the stay before the season but that could prove timely and schools might not wait for the outcome. The injunction still has to be appealed by the NCAA but a court date hasn't been set.

"Until that appeal is actually heard, the rules remain in place,'' NCAA spokesperson Jeff Howard said. "Any team that can't play in an exempted event cannot play in one for this season."

That means teams such as Kentucky, Stanford, Michigan State, Memphis, Missouri and Houston cannot play in exempted events this season. Duke can play in the Great Alaska Shootout because the Blue Devils signed the contract before the 2-in-4 rule.

Bill Markovits, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case that included the Gazelle Group, which runs the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, said fewer teams will have access to certified events.

The Maui Invitational, the Preseason NIT, the BCA Classic, Top of the World Classic, the Pittsburgh Tournament, the Rainbow Classic, the Paradise Jam, the Surf n Slam and Hawaii-Hilo Shootout will go on as scheduled. The Great Alaska Shootout would now have to look for another team because Houston didn't have an exception available, according to Markovits.

Kentucky was supposed to host the eight-team BCA Invitational. The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic is in dire shape as it scrambles to reconfigure as an eight-team, single-game, two-night event to open the season Nov. 13-14 in New York City. Wake Forest is the only team that is set. Prior to Wednesday's ruling, Stanford, St. John's and Missouri were going to be in the field.

Michigan State and Kansas were going to host a round of the Guardians Classic and then likely meet each other in Kansas City with hosts South Carolina and Southwest Missouri State. Now, the Gamecocks and Bears could be the two finalists because Michigan State and Kansas don't have an exemption. Those two schools are expected to play their originally scheduling single game in Lawrence, Kan., Nov. 25.

Teams such as Texas, Mississippi State, Illinois and Gonzaga are trying to finish their schedules but don't have an exemption available.

Here are the tournaments that are set:

Preseason NIT: Connecticut, Davidson, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Hofstra, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marist, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri-Kansas City, Nevada, Saint Francis (N.Y.), Texas Tech, Utah, Vermont, Yale.

Maui Invitational: Central Michigan, Chaminade, Hawaii, Ohio State, Santa Clara, Villanova, Dayton, San Diego State.

Top of the World Classic: Alaska-Fairbanks, Binghamton, Idaho State, Rice, Saint Mary's, Texas-San Antonio, VMI, Washington State.

BCA Classic: Xavier (host), Illinois-Chicago, Coppin State, Mercer, Ohio, UC Irvine, San Diego, Oakland. Surf n Slam: BYU-Hawaii (host), Northern Illinois, Baylor and San Jose State.

Hawaii-Hilo Shootout: Hawaii-Hilo (host), Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, Rider.

Virgin Islands Paradise Jam: Appalachian State, Boston College, Hampton, LaSalle, Monmouth, Wichita State.

Rainbow Classic: Hawaii (host), East Tennessee State, IUPUI, Lamar, Pepperdine, American, Fairfield, Bowling Green.

Pittsburgh Tournament: Pittsburgh (host), Florida State, Murray State, Eastern Michigan, Wagner, Chicago State.

Here are the tournaments in trouble with their fields:

University Hoops Classic (New Orleans host), Coaches vs. Cancer in New York, BCA Invitational, Guardians Classic, Great Alaska Shootout.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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