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NCAA 2015

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First Four hosting duties no longer a definite for Dayton

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The First Four has always been in Dayton, but that's not a guarantee going forward. (USATSI)
The First Four has always been in Dayton, but that's not a guarantee going forward. (USATSI)

There is a divide in opinion on whether the NCAA tournament should keep its First Four festivities in Dayton. The community and city have long embraced the event, and in general Dayton is a very strong college basketball town.

But others believe the kick-off to the greatest American sporting event should rotate cities, just the way every other site involved with the NCAA tournament does. News was passed along late last week, via Dayton's WDTN, that the city doesn't have a stranglehold on hosting duties after all.

In July the NCAA men's selection committee met and discussed and voted on a number of things. Most notably, the changes in how the bracketing process will be updated were unveiled earlier this month. What wasn't specificaly brought up by 2013-14 chair Ron Wellman with the media was the uncertainty that lies ahead for Dayton. Not even the next three years are guaranteed to be held in the Gem City.

The University of Dayton submitted a proposal, that if accepted, would have kept the tournament in Dayton beyond 2015. That proposal was declined, according to Dave Worlock, director of media relations with the NCAA, and Dayton First Four organizers were told they had to go through the proper bidding process.
...
"This has nothing to do with The University of Dayton, rather the change of environment in collegiate athletics," said Tim O'Connell, assistant vice president of athletics and executive director, University of Dayton Arena. "We will aggressively pursue the bid to host the First Four beyond 2015."

Dayton is guaranteed the First Four in 2014 and 2015. The bids on tournament sites for 2016, 2017 and 2018 will happen later this year. This past spring Dayton also hosted -- as it has occasionally in the past -- the first weekend of games. The NCAA is a fan of putting the games there, though there's an argument to be had against what real "brand value" comes from planting a flag in the middle of Ohio every mid-March.

I think rotating the First Four is the answer. I've seen others suggest doing it in classic college basketball venues. That is a terrific idea, one that would give innate boost and juice and a great twist to those first two nebulous days of the tournament.

Dayton's had a decade with this event, dating back to when it was a 65-team field and that random play-in game between two no-names was played there. If the NCAA is still a bit sentimental over the site, it can still be involved, but cycling it in (say every four years) seems to be a solution worth considering.

(Hat tip, College Basketball Talk)

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