NCAA still investigating tourney expansion

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The NCAA continues to investigate the possibility of expanding the NCAA tournament, but NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen told that no decision has been made.

"Nothing is a done deal," Shaheen, who oversees the tournament, told on Monday afternoon. "We're talking with parties who have interest."

One Internet Web site reported on Monday that, according to sources, the NCAA tournament would be expanding to 96 teams as early as next season.

The NCAA's current contract, an 11-year, $6-billion deal with CBS that expires in 2013, has an opt-out clause after this season.

Multiple sources indicate that ESPN is considering bidding on the property. SportsBusiness Journal reported that CBS and Turner Sports are in discussions to create a joint bid for the rights.

Shaheen said that there has been continuous dialogue about the potential of going from 65 to 96 teams.

"It's part of our due diligence," Shaheen said. "We have to look at what our membership wants."

The NCAA's deal with the 32-team NIT also expires at the end of this season and, according to sources, one of the possibilities is to end the agreement and take 31 of those teams and add them to the NCAA tournament field.

Shaheen said that the NCAA has been examining possibilities that would take into account the time spent off campus for student-athletes.

"We are looking into all the possibilities," Shaheen said. "We have to look into it, but we don't even know if we'd do it. Just because we're checking into it doesn't mean we're going to do it."

"We have to assess everything," he added. "Have we talked to people in our membership about expanding? Absolutely."

While Shaheen wouldn't comment on it, one source said that if the tournament does expand to 96, one of the potential formats would involve the identical start and end date and less travel than the NCAA and NIT tournaments combined.