The chairman of the NCAA Basketball Committee is excited about a change in policy that may first inconvenience fans at his own school.
Revising an earlier decision, the tournament committee has decreed that beginning this year instead of 1991 no team will play first or second-round games on its home floor."After the tremendous favorable response the committee received last year when no team played on its home floor in the first or second rounds, we went back to the host sites to see whether they would consider us moving the policy from 1991 to 1989," said chairman Cedric Dempsey. "And they all complied."
The first fans irritated by the new policy could be at Arizona, where Dempsey is athletic director. The Wildcats are the official host of a West Regional first and second-round site March 17-19 at Tucson, Ariz., but will have to play elsewhere.
The committee has long had a policy of not letting teams play on their home courts in regional competition and Dempsey said he does not expect attendance to suffer greatly.
"The only place that begins to create a problem is in the West, where we have long distances between institutions," he said. "But we do feel the neutrality will enhance the tournament and should not affect crowds. I am confident we will do well (at Tucson)."
The committee will be careful to make certain fans where early-round games are played will be able to watch their local teams play elsewhere on television.
"If a host institution is playing elsewhere, they will play on opposite days in the bracketing," he said. "In other words, if the University of Arizona is hosting on Friday-Sunday, then we (the Arizona team) would play in the Thursday-Saturday sequence."
Critics of past tournament policy have pointed to such situations as Indiana playing at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis in the early rounds before going on to win the 1986 championship. Another example of the "home crowd" problem would be Georgia Tech playing in the Omni in Atlanta. Dempsey agreed that eliminating the home crowd problem at regional sites is much more difficult.