Q: Will the new league have a automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for next year or will they have to wait? Also wht do you think the chances of holding the tournament in Hartford in the future will be?
A: Yes, Mark, the American Athletic Conference, AAC or Americon, will have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It has a new name, but as far as the NCAA is concerned, it is the old Big East and inherits that slot, with all the automatic bids in all sports. The “new Big East,” the league with the non-football playing schools, et al, is the new entity. It will have automatic bids, too, but has to go through a process of applying for them.
So for UConn, nothing changes as far as automatic tournament bids.
The XL Center, I have been told, is working on a proposal to host the AAC men’s Tournament. I would think its chances are fairly good, so long as UConn is staying in the league. This league does not have a natural “capital,” like New York and MSG were, so the process of locating the league tournament will not be as cut and dry. It is likely to be rotated, and cities like Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Tampa, that have NBA-caliber arenas are also viable sites and I am sure some of them will make bids, also. But I would guess Hartford is as good a place as any to have the tournament, it would probably draw well because of UConn, so if it doesn’t happen this coming season, I have to believe it will come here eventually.