Schedules for the ’05 season are coming out at a breakneck pace now. The ACC and SEC recently finalized their respective conference slates, allowing most of its member teams to release their full schedules this week.
One of the interesting aspects of these schedules is the participants in the pre-season exhibition games. As you may remember, this past summer the NCAA legislated that exhibition opponents must be college teams. (As with any NCAA regulation, there are a few exceptions to this.) This was largely in response to Jim Calhoun’s tactic of using one of last season’s exhibition games as a way to send a $22,000 check to incoming freshman Rudy Gay’s AAU coach. In fairness, Calhoun wasn’t the only coach who used such methods. The practice became more prevalent across big-time college hoops in recent years.
So instead of UConn vs. the Beltway Ballers, we get Mount Olive vs. UNC and Fayetteville State vs. NC State. Kentucky Wesleyan has as much business in Rupp Arena as Rich Eisen does in a Coors Light commercial. But on November 9th they square off with Kentucky in exhibition action.
For once, the NCAA did something right and did it quickly. Instead of the exhibition season being about filling the coffers of big-time AAU coaches, money will now end up in the athletic departments of Division 3 schools – programs that aren’t in it for the money or the publicity. But that’s why they deserve it.