The All-College Basketball Tournament has a sponsor. Soon it will have a format change. And perhaps better teams.
The nation's oldest holiday basketball tournament will become a classic format in 2001, said Tim Brassfield, executive director of Oklahoma City's All Sports Association. After this season, first-round winners will not meet in a championship game. The schedule will be pre-determined.
Touchstone Energy has become the title sponsor of the All-College. Brassfield declined to reveal Touchstone's financial commitment but said it was enough "to bring in better teams, to make it a tournament the city can be proud of."
The 1999 All-College field was plagued by one of its worst fields ever: Valparaiso, Mount St. Mary's and Arkansas State joined host Oklahoma.
The 2000 tournament includes OU, Oral Roberts, SMU and Texas-Pan American. Brassfield promises better fields in the future, including two state schools with two big-name opponents. He mentioned Purdue and Louisiana State as candidates.
Brassfield said his ideal format is for OU and Oklahoma State to participate each year and play only one game each on successive nights against marquee teams. The first game of the doubleheader each night would be either a women's game or a small-college game.
"We'd be interested in that," said OSU coach Eddie Sutton, whose program has declined All-College bids in recent years.
OU coach Kelvin Sampson said his primary concern is to maintain a presence in Oklahoma City, whether that's one game or two. Sampson said he would love to play NCAA powers in the All-College, but they aren't interested in the present two-game format.
Television now drives big-time matchups. Brassfield said the All-College hopes to land a good television deal.
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