Basketball: Columbia coach discusses pros of tourney proposal
On the proposal, which Smith said has “unanimous support” among Ivy League men’s coaches:
“The commissioner’s office said if we want to do something like that we have to make a proposal that’s something everyone agrees to. Our biggest goal is, let’s see if we can get the idea of having it. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
On why the tournament, a recurring issue in Ivy League athletics, has been developed into a full proposal now:
“I just got here [in 2010], and I was surprised how good the talent is in the league. Everyone feels that it’s not the same as it was, say, 10-12 years ago ... Everyone sees that the possibility of having multiple teams, even from the Ivy League, is something that can be considered.
I say it affects our seeding too — the year Princeton won it, they were seeded against Kentucky as a 13-seed, and I think they were better than that. We need to get out of this mentality of, oh, they played them so close and did a good job — it’s still the 16-vs.-1-seed mentality, and that’s not what it is anymore ... It’s not absurd to think that Cornell team that went to the Sweet 16, or that Princeton team or Harvard could do something of Butler’s magnitude [reaching the national finals].”
On how having a tournament might improve Ivy League teams’ seeding:
“I think it all helps. Obviously, the numbers don’t matter because we get seeded lower than our RPI, so maybe that would help. I think we’re naive if we don’t think that having our product on those national TV opportunities on ESPN makes a difference ... Especially on Championship Week and tournament time, that’s a window for people to see it. We usually go silent during Championship Week. I think it’s another opportunity for us to be seen.”