basketball: College Basketball

College Basketball

Basketball is a major sport in U.S. colleges. Postseason tournaments, first the National Invitation Tournament (begun 1938) and then the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships (begun 1939), soon attracted enough attention to fill large arenas like New York's Madison Square Garden. Point-shaving and game-fixing scandals unsettled college basketball in both 1950–51 and 1961, but did not diminish fan loyalty for extended periods.

The NCAA championship tournament, once secondary to the NIT, grew enormously in the latter part of the 20th cent. Large live audiences, national television coverage, and competitive parity have helped to make the NCAA's “March Madness” and Final Four (the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament) one of the most popular of all U.S. sporting events.

With the enormous growth financially of professional and college basketball during the same time period and into the 21st cent., college basketball faced increasing pressures as coaches, schools, sponsors, and others profited while players received scholarships and little more in return for their contribution to the second most popular collegiate sport. The most successful and marketable college players left school after as little as a year, and the sport faced recurring scandals, including a major one revealed in 2017 by an FBI bribery and fraud investigation, which involved a number of schools, players and their families and representatives, agents, and apparel company executives. A number of changes in how the NCAA regulates the sport were recommended in 2018 by an NCAA commission, but issue of compensating athletes was not addressed.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Sports