NCAA Tournament expansion would happen if it was up to one national award winning coach.
Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said earlier this week that he would like for the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament to expand from four to eight teams in the upcoming seasons.
“I think that we have enough good teams that it wouldn’t harm the integrity of the NCAA championship,” Pavlik said at his weekly news conference Monday. “I think overall you’d see some surprises in an eight-team tournament.”
The championship tournament has remained at four teams since men’s volleyball became an NCAA sanctioned sport in 1970. The conference champions from the EIVA, MPSF and MIVA each receive an automatic bid and one at-large bid is awarded to round out the field.
In recent years there has been increasing discussions of possible expansion.
Conference Carolinas, the first completely Division II men’s volleyball conference, will be eligible to receive an automatic bid for the 2014 Final Four. In addition, the Big West said last year that it was considering adding men’s volleyball, which would split the 12-team MPSF into two conferences.
“If the dominoes are wobbling but don’t fall I think that we are going to stay with a four-team championship event,” Pavlik said. “If the dominoes start to fall, and we get the Big West and MPSF out there. We get the Conference Carolinas, EIVA and MIVA, and you follow the NCAA guidelines with the awarding of automatic qualifiers and the at-large paths. I think that eight is going to solve most of those problems for a long, long time.”
In his 17th year as Penn State’s head coach, Pavlik has advanced to 16 Final Fours and was named the 2008 National Coach of the Year as the Nittany Lions won their second national championship in program history.
Pavlik said a partial tournament expansion to six teams would not be as effective because it would be a temporary change that would need to corrected in future years.
“I think that the worst thing that we can do is with our tournament is to keep changing it,” the 17-year Penn State coach said. “I think we need to make to so that we cover the possibilities of a five to 10 year period where what we see happening will happen.”
This is not the first time a coach has public stated support for tournament expansion. Ball State coach Joel Walton previously said the tournament needs to expand because of the growth in college men’s volleyball teams throughout the nation.
The Nittany Lions (22-6, 10-0 EIVA) won their 13th consecutive EIVA regular season title and received a bye to EIVA Tournament semifinals next week.
Penn State will also host this year’s NCAA Tournament on May 5-7.