NEW YORK — The Final Four's first two games are moving to cable next year.
The national semifinals will air on TBS in 2014 and 2015, with the title game remaining on CBS, the companies said Tuesday.
Under the 14-year deal that CBS and Turner Sports signed with the NCAA in 2010, CBS and TBS were scheduled to start alternating broadcasts of the entire Final Four starting in 2016, but Turner had the option to move that up to 2014.
Network executives decided in recent months that the best approach for both companies was to split the coverage for the next two years before beginning to take turns. TBS will televise the entire Final Four in 2016 and CBS in 2017.
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"It was a nice opportunity to have a transition," Turner Sports chief David Levy said during a conference call.
The two companies recently completed the third year of their contract, which televised every game in the tournament for the first time using CBS and three Turner channels — TBS, TNT and truTV. The new model has drawn strong ratings and proved viewers are comfortable finding the games on cable.
That success made Turner eager to get in on the Final Four early. Sports fans have become increasingly accustomed to major events on cable, include college football's title game.
Vols' Golden transferring
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee guard Trae Golden's roller-coaster junior year has culminated with the biggest twist of all.
Tennessee announced Tuesday that Golden will transfer at the end of the spring semester. Golden, a two-year starter, was third in the Southeastern Conference with 3.9 assists per game and was the Vols' third-leading scorer with 12.1 points per game this past season. He was named SEC player of the week twice while helping the Volunteers finish 20-13 and earn a second straight NIT berth.
"I had a great three years at Tennessee, but I plan to play my senior year somewhere else this fall," Golden said in a statement released by the university.
Golden's decision creates uncertainty for a program that figured to enter the 2013-14 as a potential Top 25 team. Tennessee returns first-team all-SEC guard Jordan McRae and second-team all-SEC forward Jarnell Stokes.
The news comes just three days after Tennessee revealed it had released freshman guard Travon Landry from his letter of intent before he ever enrolled. Landry has since signed with New Mexico State.