While the prestige of the NIT has diminished thanks to the NCAA tournament, the tournament will not be searching for a new home anytime soon.
The NCAA and Madison Square Garden have come to an agreement, announcing a three-year extension to “The World’s Most Famous Arena” hosting the preseason and postseason events.
“The NIT is synonymous with New York City and we are committed to keeping the tournaments there,” said NCAA Executive Vice President for Championships and Alliances Mark Lewis in the statement.
“Our agreement guarantees that both of these tournaments will continue to build on the rich history each has established at Madison Square Garden.”
The NIT Season Tip-Off has been in operation since 1985, and the Garden will continue to host the semifinals, title game and third-place game in that event.
But it’s the Postseason NIT that’s the gem, having been in operation since 1938.
At one time a crown valued more than the NCAA title, the NIT title has become a trophy seen more as “proof” (misguided proof at that) that the champion should have been in the NCAA tournament.
“We’re excited that the NIT will continue to call Madison Square Garden home, and all the student-athletes and coaches will have the opportunity to play in the transformed Garden,” said Scott O’Neil, president, MSG Sports in the same statement.
“These prestigious tournaments consistently feature some of the country’s most exciting teams and remarkable student-athletes. We are proud to continue our relationship with the NIT tournaments as we continue to bring the best of college basketball to New York area fans.”
There were some questions about the future of the event at Madison Square Garden given the NIT moving its staff and operations to Indianapolis (the NCAA acquired the NIT in 2005 to end litigation between the two parties).
It’s good to see that the event will remain at the Garden, which can be a thrill in itself for players who begin the tournament with a sense of disappointment after failing to make the Field of 68.