Court rule hurtsThe Rainbow Classic, the Maui Invitational and other college basketball tournaments in Hawaii suffered a setback yesterday after a federal judge in Ohio dismissed a preliminary injunction on the NCAA's 2-and-4 rule for the upcoming season.
isle tourney invitations
A federal judge lets an NCAA
basketball rule stand that
limits tournament selections
By Paul Arnett
The 2-and-4 rule limits college basketball teams to two appearances every four years in exempted tournaments such as the ones in the islands and Las Vegas, New York and Alaska. Under the exemption, teams don't have to count the tournament games toward their 28-game regular-season schedule.
But if schools wanted to play more than twice in four years in these prestigious events, they would have to count the games, something most wouldn't want to do because of the potential loss of revenue generated through home dates.
Organizers of the tournaments filed a preliminary injunction against the NCAA, claiming that their events couldn't survive the 2-and-4 rule. Federal Judge Edmund Sargus of Columbus, Ohio, denied the motion. He wanted to see whether any tournaments would fold if the 2-and-4 rule remained in place for the third of four seasons.
Bob Nash, the University of Hawaii's associate head coach, was disappointed with the ruling. He's in Las Vegas for a national high school basketball tournament and said last night that everyone would have to learn to live with the decision.
"I think it prevents us from getting quality teams every year," said Nash, who handles the scheduling for the Hawaii men's basketball team, including the Rainbow Classic. "We had Oklahoma and Memphis waiting in the wings if the judge ruled for the tournaments.
"But with this decision, it puts us back to square one. I'll start working on Monday on securing the final two teams for our event. They won't be from the upper echelon as we had hoped. We just have to move forward and see what happens."
Nash confirmed that six of the eight teams were set to play in this year's Rainbow Classic. They are Western Kentucky, Butler, Bradley, Texas-Pan American, Tennessee Tech and Hawaii. It's not the kind of field that will likely draw a lot of national attention.
"What hurts us is not having a national TV contract like the Maui Invitational has with ESPN," Nash said. "It's tough to attract the top teams if they aren't going to get that kind of exposure they get on Maui.
"It's a disappointing decision, but everybody has got to live by the same rules. Our tournament is the last of its kind. While Maui is handled by an outside agency, we run everything ourselves. I think the Maui field is set through 2004. But after that, it's going to be more difficult for them to continue to attract the top teams."
Tournaments in Las Vegas and New York are facing more serious deadlines. Syracuse is the only exempted team in The Coaches vs. Cancer event that opens the collegiate campaign on Nov. 14-15 at Madison Square Garden. Texas and Alabama were also expected to play, but they may rethink their positions if the games played in the preseason event count toward their regular season.
According to ESPN.com, only six of the 28 exempted tournaments have completed their fields. In the top six or seven conferences, most of the teams have already used their exemptions, making it difficult to fill those fields with quality opponents.
"The thing is, the NCAA selection committee wants to have these kind of events to help fill out the NCAA Tournament field," Nash said. "They love it if a Kansas plays a North Carolina at our place because it's at a neutral site. Everybody is going to feel the impact of this decision."
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