More Sun Belt hoops RPI info

3 08 2010

I had a chance to speak with Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters this afternoon to see if I could try to get an update on the league’s RPI situation.

As many of you may remember, I spoke with both Waters and WKU President Gary Ransdell at the end of this past season about the growing problem that has become the Sun Belt’s overall men’s basketball RPI.

The league may have hit a serious low this past season when tournament champion North Texas – the league’s lone NCAA Tournament rep – finished the year at 104 in the RPI rankings, according to realtimerpi.com.

Waters has since met with the league’s presidents and athletic directors to discuss the situation, here’s what he had to say today:

“The CEOs are incredibly concerned about the league in men’s basketball. Once upon a time back in 1976 when the league was founded, it was as good a league as you’d find in the country – we had a team in the Final Four the first year. But the reality is that a lot of those schools aren’t here anymore.

“We’ve had flashes of greatness. In 1992-93 there was some excitement and then certainly when Western Kentucky went to the Sweet 16 in (2008) that was big. But as a league, we haven’t been consistent. And that’s the challenge.”

“The other challenge is, how do we pay for it? That’s the challenge the CEOs have given to the conference office. Let’s not just look at a formula for scheduling, let’s not live in a dream world, because we have to have some money to pay for it.

“Hopefully by basketball media day, perhaps we’ll have some of the details work out, but right now, the challenge is to work through some of the details.

“This has become a very expensive proposition and what can we do to help schools increase attendance? We only have one school who has an attendance over a five-year period that’s at the national average. Some may say ‘oh, our school doesn’t have that many seats.’ But that’s a real good thing. If you’re selling out everything you got, then you can review the price of tickets and everything else. But we’ve got to get to a point where we’re making attendance an issue.

“We also have to explore some regional scheduling opportunities. Developing home-and-home series with conferences in our geographic area.

“Everybody wants to be better. We probably differ some on how to get there, but we don’t differ on the fact that we all want to get there.”

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