Vol. 50, No. 2 January 2013 .pdf version
John Akers: We saved what seats we could
Joe Mitch: Scholarship will aid member's son or daughter
Kirk Wessler: Holding fire was the right approach
Frank Burlison: Search for Most Courageous candidates
Shaheen, Katha Quinn: A perfect match
Armstrong claims first, second in best writing contest
Complete writing contest results

John Akers

We saved what seats we could, but wish it were more

By JOHN AKERS / Basketball Times
USBWA President

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The NCAA Tournament seats that we were able to salvage weren't nearly enough.

Let's just get that out of the way.

The 70-some seats near courtside that the USBWA was able to save are better than the shutout that we were facing early last spring or the 40 that we were shown by NCAA members early last fall. But they're still not enough.

Here's a recap of what we will be getting:

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Under the new configuration, a front row of seating opposite the team benches will be used primarily for CBS, ESPN, Dial Global and each participating team's radio teams. The remaining 22 seats during the semifinals will be given to the media, with the number growing to 30 for the championship game (with the media being given the space that was used by the radio stations of the losing teams from the semifinals).

A second media row will provide 24 seats, with 20 going to the media for the semifinals and two seats on each end going to coaches for scouting purposes. Those four seats will also open up for the championship game.

Four seats in each of the four corners of the court, located behind areas reserved for disabled seating, will also be able for the media, for a total of 16 seats.

Four more seats will be provided for two beat writers from each team (which will be swapped out after each game) on the table located behind the scorer's table.

Overflow media will be seated in either an auxiliary box located between the baselines or in the end zone. When USBWA officers met with the NCAA in Indianapolis last fall, all of the overflow media was headed for end-zone seating.

Those who were paying close attention to our initial news release on this topic will note a change in the number of seats that I'm describing as being "near courtside." That release placed the number at about 130. There's a reason for the discrepancy: I misinterpreted some of the information that was passed along during the conference call in which the NCAA presented the USBWA officers with the final tally.

We were told in the call that in addition to the 74 aforementioned seats and the seats in the auxiliary box, the NCAA would provide about 56 end-zone seats located "on the floor" a term the NCAA uses to describe seats that are accessible to the floor. Writers who sit there will indeed have direct access to the floor, but the seats are actually about 100 feet too far from the court to be described as being near the court.

My mistake didn't change the number of seats we are receiving, but it altered how we presented the information to you. I apologize for that.

In this season's Final Four in Atlanta, the auxiliary-box seats apparently will be better than most. But we'll need those end-zone seats in 2014 when the Final Four moves to Dallas, where the games might be nothing more than a rumor from the Cowboy Stadium auxiliary box, and in similar venues.

I wish the news were better.

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