Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Did the Big South change their tournament schedule on the last day of the regular season to boost ticket sales?
The Big South Conference decided this summer to move the conference basketball tournament to one location. In the past the Big South has had their tournament at the site of the higher seeded teams in the conference. After a bidding process last spring, which included Lawrence-Joel Veterans Coliseum in Winston-Salem, the Big South decided to host the tournament in Coastal Carolina's brand new HTC Center just outside of Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach is a great place for the tournament, but many took the move as an act to appease Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have been talking about bolting the Big South for years for the likes of the Southern Conference or the Colonial Athletic Association.
With location being the main selling point, the Big South embarked on a marketing blitz to get basketball fans to Myrtle Beach Madness. Part of their website and printed marketing materials has the planned bracket, with games starting on March 5.
As you may have noticed, the last game on Tuesday night was supposed to feature the sixth seed from the North Division versus the third seed from the South Division at 8 PM. So Longwood and UNC Asheville should be matching up for a night game Tuesday night, right? WRONG.
On the last day of regular season conference play Saturday, the conference switched their schedule so that the No. 4-seed in the South, Coastal Carolina, would take on Liberty at 8 PM. So why the switch?
The only reasonable explanation for a switch this late in the process is that of a money grab for the conference and, perhaps, the host. Surely, tournament attendance will be higher with the Chanticleers playing at 8PM rather than 2PM?
This move is beyond unethical on a number of levels. If you're going to promote a neutral tournament site then changes should not be made like this a couple of days before the tournament. The conference will likely sell more single session tickets now and most of those people buying them will be local Coastal Carolina fans.
The tournament schedule was set months ago and if Coastal Carolina wanted to earn the competitive advantage of playing a night game on their home court then perhaps they should have played better in conference. I put no blame for this on the university, rather the conference.