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A case for inclusion

Appalachian State pays $10,000 for a newspaper ad, trying to reach the NCAA tournament selection committee

March 10, 2007|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

The NCAA tournament selection committee has been sequestered on the 15th floor of the Indianapolis Westin since Wednesday night, with a security guard on duty.

Friday morning, Appalachian State found a way inside, paying $10,000 for a full page ad in the Indianapolis Star touting the barely on-the-bubble Mountaineers' NCAA tournament credentials.

"Stating our case," it read.

That case includes: A 25-7 record; a 3-2 record against top 50 in the RPI; wins over NCAA tournament-bound teams Virginia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Commonwealth and Davidson -- the last two on the road; and a 20-4 record since forward Donte Minter, a transfer from Virginia, became eligible.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, it also includes a No. 61 RPI, losses to two teams with RPIs below 200, and an 89-87 overtime loss to College of Charleston in a Southern Conference tournament semifinal.

But yes, the committee got the message.

"The committee is aware of the ad," David Worlock, associate director of the Division I men's basketball championship, said in an e-mail, and the NCAA released a statement saying that "taking out an ad has no effect on the selection process."

"Obviously, member institutions are free to spend their funds on advertising as they see fit, but 'lobbying' in any form doesn't impact the committee's work," Worlock said.

Charlie Cobb, the athletic director at Appalachian State, joked that the ad was the idea of "some idiot who didn't know what he was doing." It was him, of course.

"In all honesty, we did it because we're Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina, and we need to do something different to keep people talking," he said. "We're not on TV every night like the ACC, the SEC, the Big Ten and Pac-10.

"I was talking to our coach, Houston Fancher, and we said we're getting more national publicity now than we have all season, and we haven't played in a week.

"Everybody and their brother is making phone calls and e-mailing. As long as we've got somebody talking about Appalachian State, we've got a shot."

There are attempts to keep the committee isolated, but after all, it's a basketball tournament, not a capital murder trial. The committee watches games during breaks, and each committee member works on a laptop connected to the Internet.

Cobb will find out Sunday what kind of investment Appalachian State's $10,000 was. He said it isn't about the money, but the financial payoff could be significant.

Making the field was worth about $164,000 last year, though that money is typically shared with other conference schools.


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