- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From combined dispatches

The head of the NCAA tournament selection committee would rather bust a budget than a bracket.

Chairman Mike Slive said his group will still try to keep teams close to their home fans, as it has in the past, but not if it would result in unfair competition.

“We’re concerned, as are all Americans, but I think our primary obligation is to provide the nation with a geographically and balanced national tournament,” Slive said during Tuesday’s conference call with reporters.

The recession has some schools scrambling to fill budget holes and seats.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Stanford projects a $5 million shortfall over the next three years and is considering reducing its staff. At Indiana, athletic director Fred Glass has reduced ticket costs for balcony seating to $5, hoping to improve slipping attendance.

Other schools are concerned about rising travel costs for teams, alumni, bands and fans during the 65-team tournament.

In 2002, the NCAA adopted a system designed to keep schools as close to home as possible by ending the practice of having an entire eight-team section of the bracket play in one place.

But last year George Mason and Winthrop went to Denver, while Boise State wound up playing in Birmingham, Ala.

“The bracketing principles are designed to place teams as geographically close to their home city as possible, and we certainly understand the economic times,” Slive said. “But I don’t think we’re going to violate those principles.”

CENTRAL MICHIGAN: The school and its women’s basketball coach are being sued by a former player, who says her heterosexuality was a factor in losing a scholarship after two seasons.

Brooke Heike said she fell out of favor with Sue Guevara immediately after the coach was hired in 2007.

Heike said Guevara told her she wore too much makeup and was not the coach’s “type.” That meant she wasn’t a lesbian, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Bay City.

Heike lost her scholarship after the 2007-08 season.

“I didn’t feel that she did anything to improve herself after being told over and over what she needed to do,” Guevara told an appeals committee in June.

MIAMI: The Hurricanes will take charter buses to football games at Central Florida and South Florida this fall instead of flying as part of cost-cutting efforts at the university.

The decision by coach Randy Shannon will save the school $140,000, athletic director Kirby Hocutt said.

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