UK playing in NIT 'break-even deal' financially

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2009 

Playing in the National Invitation Tournament was neither a victory nor a defeat, financially.

"It's a break-even deal," UK Deputy Director of Athletics Rob Mullens said. "But it's not about finances. It's about student-athletes participating in the post-season."

With the NIT now owned and operated by the NCAA, schools place bids to host games. Kentucky made its bid near the March 7 deadline.

According to the contract, a host school like Kentucky will receive 15 percent of the net revenue. Mullens estimated that UK would net about $20,000 for the game against UNLV.

Other net revenue goes into a pool that is distributed to the participating schools after the NIT is completed. The more games a team plays, the greater its share. In 2008, schools received about $28,000 from this pool.

For a UK athletic program with a $67 million budget, the NIT money makes a small dent.

UK considered Memorial Coliseum one of the stars of the night, Mullens said. The school received several appreciative comments from fans, who recalled going to games in the facility as children.

UK moved to Rupp Arena for the 1976-77 season.

UK crowd

The sellout crowd was almost totally partisan to Kentucky.

UNLV did not sell any tickets directly to its fans. The school directed interested fans to UK's ticket office.

When asked how many UNLV fans sought ticket information, spokesman Andy Grossman said only a handful.

"Nothing significant," he said.

No tickets for seats in the end zone nearest the offices were sold. The fire marshal would not allow those seats to be occupied because of the distance to an exit.

Where's Jeannine?

The ESPN crew that includes sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards worked the game. But Edwards was not in Memorial Coliseum with play-by-play man Brad Nessler and color commentator Jimmy Dykes.

Her absence had nothing to do with her two dust-ups with UK Coach Billy Gillispie earlier in the season. Dykes said ESPN always gives Edwards a week or so off after the college basketball regular season.

After a brief rest, Edwards will be part of ESPN's coverage of horse racing through the Triple Crown season.

Recruiting ...

Junior college point guard Konner Tucker reportedly attended the game. Tucker played for Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, last season.

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