The forgone expansion of the NCAA tournament from 65 to 96 teams is only the tip of the iceberg, folks. It's definitely maddening for college hoops fans, but it also serves to mask several other changes to NCAA athletics that I think you should be aware of. They are as follows:
- Women's basketball will be eliminated in the interest of equality. There will simply be "college basketball" going forward and any universities whose women's teams are better than their men's will put women on the floor. Clearly, Jim Calhoun is out of a job. Also, another lesser-known rule is that any male coach smaller than Maya Moore will no longer be eligible to coach at the college level. So long, Tom Crean.
- College diving will have the water depth in diving pools lowered to 3 feet. The diving platform will also be raised 50 feet. Said a representative from the NCAA public affairs office:
"We feel that having so much water in the pool truly decreases the relevancy of good diving. Any ol' fool can dive into the pool and do well. Or survive, anyway. Changing the depth to three feet means you'd better be sure you know what you're doing and will place a premium on the regular season. Anyone who doesn't stay focused will wind up dead or paralyzed. In this way, much like college football, there will be a playoff atmosphere every weekend."
- In baseball news, the regular season and College World Series will be eliminated and instead Rice and LSU will play an eleven-game series every year to determine the champion. All other schools will have their baseball teams reduced to "club" status and will play games on intramural fields and must allow anyone under the age of 60 to play if they want. Pitches will also be thrown underhand. Said the NCAA:
"We feel this is a more reasonable solution. Thinking about all the NCAA basketball teams that don't get into the tournament made us sad. Those kids DESERVE to have a chance to play. The same goes for out-of-shape 51-year-olds whose only other recourse is beer league softball, but who really always wanted to be college athletes. These guys DESERVE the chance to do that. Thus, this rule was born out of fairness."
- Men's and women's crew will be changed somewhat as well, in that instead of oars, the rowers will have swords and will fight other crew teams to the death. Last team with a living team member wins. (In related news, Crew is expected to be phased out of NCAA athletics by 2012.)
- Women's gymnastics: Women under 100 lbs will be asked to curl into the fetal position and will then be duct-taped into that position, loaded into a cannon, and fired at a brick wall. Points deducted if your gymnast accidentally is fired through a window, unless that window is Jim Delany's.
- Track and Field will see a number of nuances added to the sport. For one thing, starter's pistols will be replaced with Glock 23s. At the start of each race, the runner in a randomly drawn lane will have this gun fired at the thigh of the starter's choosing.
For long jumpers, the NCAA will be adding an alligator pit and quicksand for all distances under Bob Beamon's 1968 gold-medal winning jump of 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches. From the NCAA:
"While Mr. Beamon's 29-plus-feet was the record for 23 years, that was a long time ago, and we feel today's athletes should be able to achieve this with no problem. If you're afraid of gators, perhaps you don't belong in this sport. Or the SEC. Sorry, that was a little college sports humor there."
- College fencing will be changed to actual fencing, like in The Karate Kid. Those interested in fencing will go to a troubled neighborhood and put up fencing as a public service. This is because the NCAA has decided it's not nice to stab people. Fencing outfits will be donated to local beekeepers.
Seriously, these all make as much sense as anything else the NCAA does.