SoCon agrees on basketball tweaks

SoCon agrees on basketball tweaks

June 2nd, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

The annual Southern Conference meetings concluded Friday with none of the member schools leaving and no new school joining the SoCon.

"We understand that App State and Georgia Southern have been fairly public about aspirations to move to the Bowl Subdivision, but as their coaches and administrators said, you need an invitation and their phone isn't ringing," SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said via cell phone. "They're happy to be in the SoCon and we're happy to have them. So we look forward to continuing with them."

The presidents, chancellors, administrators and coaches agreed on tweaks to men's basketball with the goal of raising the conference's profile. They changed the process for earning a first-round bye in the SoCon tournament beginning this season and will switch to a 16-game conference schedule for 2013-14.

"There was a real sense of collaboration and a collective desire to make the league as strong as possible," UTC athletic director Rick Hart said. "Moving to a 16-game schedule provides equity in the schedule, and the December games that we're giving up will allow us to get a quality home or neutral-site game."

The new seeding system will grant byes to the winners of each division. The rest of the league will be seeded 3 through 12 with Nos. 3 and 4 earning the other two byes.

This past season, UNC Greensboro won the North Division and Elon finished second at 9-9 to earn byes. Davidson won the South while Wofford and GSU tied for second at 12-6 with Wofford earning the bye via tiebreaker. Under the new format, byes would have gone to UNCG, Davidson, Wofford and GSU.

"This gets the four teams that are most deserving of byes getting byes," UTC coach John Shulman said. "If the goal is to get our best team to go to the NCAAs, that should take care of our four best teams."

A 16-game conference schedule will have every team playing division members twice and opposite division teams once per season.

It also essentially eliminates the need to play SoCon games in December, so schools have two more chances to schedule BCS conference schools or other mid-major teams to improve team and conference RPIs.

"Our conference needs Division I nonconference games," said Shulman, noting that his Mocs will play seven of those games in McKenzie Arena this season. "It gives people an opportunity to be more creative with scheduling. It's going to work out well."

Iamarino also announced the creation of a men's basketball coordinator position to help improve the out-of-conference scheduling, overall marketing and general improvement of SoCon basketball.

"We need somebody focusing on men's basketball 365 days a year," Iamarino said. "They will be involved with scheduling promotion of our tournament, marketing efforts, placing teams in exempt events and made-for-TV games. I like the idea."