NIT will no longer guarantee tournament spots for regular-season conference champions

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Regular-season conference champions are no longer guaranteed spots in the National Invitation Tournament, a change that disappointed at least a couple mid-major conferences.

The NIT Board of Managers tweaked its qualifying rules for its postseason tournament Friday, saying regular-season champs who do not win their conference tournament and are not otherwise selected to the NCAA Tournament will not receive an automatic bid to the NIT.

Instead, the NIT will guarantee two teams — based on the NET rankings — from each of the six major conferences, the Atlantic Coast, the Big East, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the Southeastern.

The top two teams in the NET rankings not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament from each conference, regardless of win-loss record, will be selected. Additionally, the 12 teams automatically selected will be guaranteed the opportunity to host a game in the first round of the NIT.

The decision drew complaints from the commissioners of the Mid-American and Big Sky conferences.

“I was surprised and disappointed in the action announced today by the NIT Board of Managers, approximately one week prior to the start of the 2023-24 season,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. “To make such a substantive change to the NIT structure without providing a satisfactory explanation or building the foundation for such a change is troubling and leaves student-athletes, coaches and fans in a state of uncertainty.”

Steinbrecher said the change will prompt him to “focus even more on the discussion around the possible expansion of the NCAA Tournament.”

Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill echoed Steinbrecher's sentiment.

“Disappointed and concerns in the decision and the timing,” Wistrcill said.


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