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Outside the Lines:
By Invitation Only
Here's the transcript from Show 102 of weekly Outside The Lines - By Invitation Only
Sal Paolantonio, ESPN - It's selection Sunday and we'll look at the agony and the inequities of who gets to dance and who doesn't on Outside the Lines.
Announcer - March 10th, 2002. Championship week was as dramatic as ever.
Unidentified Male - (Unintelligible)
Paolantonio - Now it's time to go dancing and once again this year there are Cinderella teams romancing the field but do they belong?
Unidentified Participant - We've got to prove it by being in the tournament and being somebody.
Paolantonio - Also, male coaches of the women's game, is there reversed gender bias? There are acquisitions that the all-women's selection committee has tried to stack the teams coached by men into the same brackets.
Unidentified Female - The women are always suspicious that the men are taking over the game.
Paolantonio - Are the men just paranoid or is there a concerted effort to prevent male coaches from dominating the women's final four? Today on Outside the Lines, the gender bracket and by invitation only.
Announcer - Outside the lines is presented by State Farm Insurance.
Paolantonio - Good morning. I'm Sal Paolantonio sitting in for Bob Ley.
Today on Outside the Lines, we'll examine a growing debate in the world of big time women's basketball, a debate stirred by the dwindling number of male head coaches. They claim that they're being targeted for extinction.
But first the hours leading up to six o'clock tonight, when the men's selection tournament lets out a little puff of white smoke and announces the make-up of this year's NCAA tournament. Among those waiting to exhale are major basketball programs such as Syracuse and Virginia and Memphis, who's head coach John Calapari will join us live on this show very shortly.
But while teams in the Big East and ACC sweat it out, there are many lesser-known schools who have already made it by invitation only. Almando Salgrue has this report.
Almando Salgrue, ESPN - It's not Cameron Indoor Stadium. And these Blue Devils have not made 13 final four appearances. But the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils are certainly going to be among the NCAA tournaments field of 65 as are the Duke Blue Devils. For Central Connecticut, the stakes and rewards in March are as high as at any college basketball mecca.
Unidentified Participant - You dream about playing in your backyard when you're a little kid and I mean we got a chance to go to tournaments, especially being a small school. That doesn't happen too many times so I mean it's great that we were. Let's go baby.
Salgrue - But do they deserve to go? Central Connecticut State earned an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament this week by winning the Northeast conference title and that begs the question are they more deserving than the fifth or sixth best teams in the ACC and SEC, teams that likely won't be selected?
Unidentified Participant - I believe (we're deserving). But now we have to prove it by being in the tournament and being somebody and then they can say, you know what, they really are better than being a picked team from this conference or 16 from that conference.
Unidentified Participant - We can settle the debate on the court.
Salgrue - The debate rages because with a few notable exceptions, small conference Cinderella's don't stay at the big dance very long. These teams are often 13, 14, 15 and 16 seeds. The combined records of those seeds since the tournament expanded to a field of 64 is 31 victories and 241 losses. That includes the 15 seeded Blue Devils' 10-point loss to Iowa State in the 2000 tournament.
Unidentified Participant - When we won two years ago, (Unintelligible) was to beat Iowa State and we didn't win. (Unintelligible) satisfaction out of that (Unintelligible) 78 losses was that our players were upset that we lost and the attitude that we're going out this year is that we - is the same.
Salgrue - Earning a birth among the tournaments field of 65 teams is like reaching the promise land for small schools like Central Connecticut State. The NCAA pay out of approximately $100,000 for making the tournament goes to the conference and only about $10,000 of that goes to the school. So it isn't necessarily a revenue boom but there is perhaps a greater windfall to be reaped.
Unidentified Participant - People that are looking at colleges, they're looking more at us. They're more interested in us. They've seen us on television a number of times now and it is (Unintelligible).
Unidentified Participant - It certainly has some dollar value in terms of sponsorship. You know small schools like ours are always looking to capture some sponsors to help support your program.
Unidentified Participant - We're not a big money time place. I'm not going to be UConn. I'm not going to Ohio State. But I certainly would like to be somewhere in there where you can pick us up and say that's a good school to watch.
Unidentified Participant - But it's a big thing because they help start a lot of people that don't know about Central. Today, Central is on the map.
Unidentified Participant - We all went out. Everywhere we went, (Unintelligible) congratulations. Good luck in the tournament and stuff like that. You know and the students is just all, yeah, we can't wait. We can't wait. Who you playing Sunday? We're going to find out who.
Salgrue - And that is why Wednesday night's title game victory was so important. The 78-71 win delivered CCSU's second tournament bid in three seasons. And a sense of accomplishment that was evident from the lines of the turn styles to the electricity in the stands to the post-game celebration.
Unidentified Participant - That means that you have achieved a rise in who you are. It means that the university totaling students, faculty, the players, the community that we live who say this is fun.
Unidentified Participant - We are going to the big game. Yeah, Blue Devils.
Unidentified Participant - We want to win and we almost going to say we expect to win.
Unidentified Participant - You always remember to be humble, appreciative and thankful. What do you got (Unintelligible)?
Unidentified Participant - Champions.
Unidentified Participant - Champion on three. One-two-three.
Group - Champions.
Salgrue - Joining us now from his office in Memphis, Head Coach John Calapari who is sitting on the preverbal bubble and in Indianapolis, (Unintelligible) Commissioner Jim Delany who is the former Chairman of the Selection Committee. Jim, let's start with you. In the piece that we just saw, Central Connecticut State is celebrating its birth in the tournament but are the Blue Devils from the little town of New Britain one of the top 65 teams in the country, in your opinion?
Jim Delany, Commissioner - They're probably not but the way the tournament is formatted, there are 30 automatic qualifiers. It gives the -- everyone an opportunity that belongs to a conference and no one is guaranteed two but everyone is guaranteed one opportunity. And that really nationalizes the tournament and allows for Cinderella opportunities. After that the basketball committee is going to try to select the best 34 teams in the country. And that's a daunting task, but it's one that year-in and year-out I think they do a great job with.
Salgrue - But the 16 seeds have never won a game. Is that fair for those teams that probably deserve a better competitive shot within the tournament, Jim?
Delany - Well I think that the tournament is formatted well. I mean if you're number one, you don't deserve to play number two or number three. You deserve to play a less qualified opponent. And so I think that the seeding -- the national seeding of the tournament is proper and there have been wins at 15, 14 and 13 and I think everybody remembers that Georgetown/Princeton game, 50-49 some 12 years ago. So it is possible but I would rather be 15 and 16. There's no question about that.
Salgrue - And John, lets bring you in here. What do coaches at schools such as yours think about this?
John Calapari, head coach - Well we think everybody should have a shot. That's what makes it a national tournament and sets it apart from anything else. I would tell you I went through, at the University of Massachusetts, what Howie is going through at Central and there's nothing like it. So, you know, I think there's no coach in America that's against the at-large -- or the automatic bids. I mean it's the at-large bids that become an issue for all of us.
Salgrue - The at-large business is another whole picture. But let's look at who is in and who is out in this tour -- or could be in and who could be out. If you look at it, Winthrop's in, Holy Cross at 18-14 and Siena at 16-18. And you're in doubt and you've got 22 wins. A lot of people don't think that's fair, John, and how do you feel?
Calapari - Well let me just say. If we would have done our job against Houston, I don't think we'd be on the preverbal as you'd call it, bubble. We'd be in. We put ourselves in this position even though Kelly Wise did not play in that game doesn't matter.
I think what you have here again this tournament is special because everyone in the country has the chance to get in it. You got to win your tournament but you have a chance to get in it. And it's obvious that the lower seeds, it's hard but I can remember Richmond upsetting some people and seeing Vick Territ run off the court and say wow. And that's what makes it special. So I don't think we have an issue with it. I think the RPI issue is probably bigger with most coaches.
Salgrue - Jim, tell us about the RPI. How does that work? Put that together for us.
Delany - Well, yeah. Yeah, before speaking to the RPI, I mean, dreams do happen and the tournament allows them to happen and there are a lot of great players and coaches. I was in the Ohio Valley Conference, which is the conference that's not as historically strong as the Big 10, and in the 10 years I was there, our teams upset North Carolina State, Florida State, Kentucky and, you know, so it is possible and dreams do happen in the tournament.
On the RPI side of it, OK, it's really about strength of schedule. Strength of schedule can be measured in a variety of ways and it does -- it is good to be in a conference where there are already really good teams and it is good to be in a conference where you get to play some home games more than you play on the road.
But having said that, I think the committee historically has done a great job of providing opportunity for at-large teams who do the best they can to schedule up. I know Butler's got a strong case. I know that Memphis has got a strong case. I've seen Charleston play their way in. John's team plays in a really strong league and I'm sure that will benefit them to some extent.
But the RPI does have some flaws in it and it's not the final word. It's a guideline. There are teams in the 40's and 50's who make it in. I read the paper this morning; there's never been anyone lower than 74 in the RPI qualify.
Salgrue - But Jim ...
Delany - And now that ...
Salgrue - ... Can I just interrupt for a second. John, do you think that there's an overemphasis on the RPI just like the SAT when you're ...
Calapari - I don't.
Salgrue - ... you're going to school.
Calapari - I don't. Here's what I believe happens and Jim you were there so you can talk better about this. But I think they use common sense. But it comes down to three or four teams and they're saying what do we do? How do we schedule -- how do we do this schedule strength?
But here's my problem with schedule strength. We played Alabama. It's a one-point game with four minutes to go ...
Salgrue - John ...
Calapari - We play Iowa.
Salgrue - ... John, last question for you. Are you going to be in or out of this tournament? What do you think?
Calapari - Well with all that's falling the way it is, I think we're going to be in but you don't know. I mean it's going to be subjective. I mean everything's kind of fallen our way with who's won and who's lost. And we've done our thing. With Kelly Wise, we're 22-5. Without Kelly Wise, we're 0-4 and we had Cincinnati on the ropes. We played them for our conference championship the last game and took them to overtime on their court and really had the game. So I think we're good enough. We're one of those top 30 teams that should be in. But you know what? We didn't take care of business at Houston and put ourselves in position for them to go in the room and make a choice.
Salgrue - Thanks so much John. Good luck. Jim, thank you very much for your expertise.
Calapari - Thank you.
Salgrue - No doubt, that's a debate that will be heard coast-to-coast for the rest of the day and beyond.
Paolantonio - Gino Auriemma and Pat Summit may be destined to meet on the court but when we come back, they clash on the delicate issue of gender bias.
Unidentified Participant - (Unintelligible) it'd be crazy to think that it's not there. I think it's there.
Unidentified Participant - For me, it's disappointing when coaches in our profession imply that there is a gender bias when they view, in their eyes, something that isn't a favorable (Unintelligible).
Announcer - Outside the Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance, like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Paolantonio - You want bracketology? Well, when the selections come out later today, the men who coach in the women's game will be paying special attention to who goes where in what bracket.
Unidentified Participant - The male/female thing.
Paolantonio - In the big time world of women's college basketball, the male/female thing has nothing to do with your run of the mill gender rivalries that often crop up in college athletics. This rivalry is not about whether women are getting a fair shot but what some of the men say is an attempt to make them an endangered species.
Unidentified Participant - I think there's some resentment that goes on I think on both ends. I think men are always suspicious that women are out to get them and I think that women are always suspicious that the men are taking over the game. So I mean it's kind of stupid when you think about it but I think you'd be crazy to think that it's not there. I think it's there.
Paolantonio - On selection Sunday, the debate boils down to this. Some of the male coaches claim that the selection committee has, in the past, put male coaches in the same bracket so that they knock each other off to keep them from dominating the national stage at the final four.
The questions were first raised in 1996 when Louisiana Tech and Georgia, who were ranked first and fifth in the coaches poll, were both placed in the Midwest Region. Over the next two years, male coaches were dispersed evenly throughout the top six teams.
But in 1999, the bracketing again raised eyebrows. This time the four top seats of the Mideast region, Connecticut, Clemson, Georgia and Iowa State were all coached by men.
After the seedings were announced, Georgia coach Andy Landers said, "it's one of those ironies that keeps occurring. I can't explain it. I'm not going to try but it does seem to keep happening over and over again."
Then last year it happened again. On selection Sunday, Connecticut, Georgia and Louisiana Tech, the number one, four and six teams in the country according to the coaches' poll, were seated one, two, three in the east region. A barrage of angry reaction followed. Louisiana Tech's Leon Barmore, "it's no action. I've been around too long, seen too much." Andy Landers again of Georgia, as I've said before, I'm past being surprised. Vanderbilt's Jim Foster, I don't know if it's a trend or if it's subconscious or conscious but it just seems to happen.
The bottom line, some of the male coaches are beginning to believe that the selection committee, which is currently made up of 10 women and no men, is on a campaign to stack the deck against them.
On Friday, Hall of Fame Coach Pat Summit of Tennessee said the male coaches have been watching too many Oliver Stone movies.
Pat Summit, Tennessee coach - What are they trying to do? Are they paranoid? Are they planning (Unintelligible)? I don't know. I can't imagine our women's committee getting up and putting on a board Tennessee, Summit, Female. I can't imagine that. I just -- I don't think that way. And I don't think professional people that are doing this job think that way.
For me, it's disappointing when coaches in our profession imply that there is a gender bias when they view, in their eyes, something that isn't a favorable seating.
Unidentified Participant - I would like to think people get into a room and say, OK, here's the best teams. Here's how we should bracket them. Let's go ahead and do that. I would like to think that that's the way it works. And I've also seen brackets over the last 10 years that make you say, I wonder how that happened. And I don't believe in coincidence.
Paolantonio - Joining us now from Indianapolis, Mary Ellis Jeremiah, the Chairman of the Women's Tournament Selection Committee. And from the studio in Atlanta, Wendy Parker, who covers women's basketball for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Wendy, let's start this conversation with you. Last year, the Men Committee of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association met and this was topic number one in that meeting. Do you think this is a legitimate concern and one that they have aired many times before?
Wendy Parker, Atlanta Journal Constitution - Well, I think what we're really talking about and what they seem to feel in very understated ways is that the frequency of these -- of this bracketing seems to raise some eyebrows. Three of the last four years Georgia and Connecticut had been in the same region. They haven't played each other in the NCAA tournament but that has happened.
Georgia and Louisiana Tech have been familiar company with each other. UConn and Louisiana Tech, Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech and so on. And there really aren't that many men coaching at the high levels of women's basketball to begin with and they look around and see well, you know, I'm seeing you again or the potential of seeing you again.
And if you look -- I think the concern is that the top seats aren't really being spread around evenly regardless of gender but that certainly is part of what they're concerned about.
Paolantonio - Mary Ellis, do you agree with that or do you agree with Pat Summit that they're watching just too many Oliver Stone movies?
Mary Ellis Jeremiah, Chairman, Women's Tournament Selection Committee - Well I'd like to just reiterate what our committee does. Our committee selects and seeds based on stated criteria. And nowhere in that stated criteria is there anything to do with the coach, their gender or anything else. And so I guess I have to ...
Paolantonio - But you've heard some of these complaints, haven't you, over the last couple of years? You've heard them haven't you from (Unintelligible)?
Jeremiah - Yeah. We've heard -- we've heard them but we've heard a lot of other complaints too about a lot of other things.
And I'd like to just, at this point, agree with Gino in that it is stupid. He said that it was stupid to think about it and it's stupid for us to think about it. I'd like to think that the majority of professionals in this game do not think this way.
Paolantonio - Well I think ...
Jeremiah - I've been on this committee for four years and never one time in any of the deliberations has this ever been mentioned. It never will be mentioned and it is not a part of the seeding.
Paolantonio - Well Mary Ellis how do you explain the bracket from last year when you have Connecticut, Georgia and Louisiana Tech all bracketed together in the East like that and I think that was what really set Gino Auriemma and some of the other coaches over the top on this issue?
Jeremiah - I don't think ...
Paolantonio - How did that happen? How did that seeding take place?
Jeremiah - I don't think the committee has to explain it in terms of gender. It has to explain it in terms of the parameters that we work under to seed the bracket and I'm going to go back and talk about last year's bracket. I'm too involved in this year's bracket.
But I think that it's just really important to think that the people who perpetuate this issue are really hurting the game that they're trying to support. And I think that's probably what -- what our committee feels the most is that this is just not an issue, has never been an issue. To discuss it in terms of gender is really -- is touching the integrity of the people in that room.
Paolantonio - Wendy, did last year's bracket look strange to you?
Parker - Well I think you just learn not to be surprised and I think that's the case on the men's and the women's committee. I think that this is more an outgrowth for a number of years, really for the last decade or so, a number of the leading male coaches and even other male coaches have just felt that they really don't have much of a say in how their sport is governed. There has not been a man on the women's committee ...
Paolantonio - Well that's an interesting question to ask Mary Ellis. Mary Ellis there isn't a man on the women's committee -- Tournament Selection Committee. Should there be a man on that committee or at least one? It's 30 percent male head coaches.
Jeremiah - I think there should be the best people on the committee. And I'm -- I'm just really beyond this gender issue with who should be on, who not be on. I think it's not an issue about who's on the committee anymore than it's an issue about how these teams are seeded. And the gender issue, to me with this, is -- it's a dead horse and we think we need to get off of that horse.
Paolantonio - Well we'll try Mary Ellis. Today, we'll see how the seedings play out. And Wendy thank you very much. Mary Ellis, I know you've got a big day ahead of you. Thanks so much for your time.
Parker - OK.
Jeremiah - Thank you.
Paolantonio - In last week's show, we told you about boxers tattooing advertisements on their bodies. On Wednesday, a judge decided whether to let them continue. We'll tell you the verdict.
Paolantonio - Last Sunday we examined the issue of body billboards. On Wednesday, a district judge in Nevada cited the right to free speech in ruling that boxers could use their bodies to advertise in the ring. The court order will become permanent unless it's appealed by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Most of you agreed with the judges' ruling that boxers should have the right to sell ad space on their backs and a check of our in-box revealed these e-mails.
"Why shouldn't boxers get a piece of the pie? I say good for them. If a company is willing to pay the price for temporary advertisement, jump on before the money train leaves the station."
And this from Ames, Iowa. "Is it tasteful? It is desirable for the fans? Is it (Unintelligible)? Who cares? Really, it's the first amendment. He has the right. It's his choice to make."
We always welcome your thoughts and to check out our streaming video and transcripts of all our Sunday morning Outside the Lines shows. Log on to ESPN.com, key word OTLWEEKLY. And our e-mail address, OTLWEEKLY@espn.com.
Announcer - Outside the Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance, like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
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