The idea of forming a committee has been the source of humor for a long time. Fred Allen, a comedian of yesteryear, once said, “A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.”
But, in college basketball, that isn’t true. People take the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee oh so seriously. Its decisions about team selection, seeding and bracketing inspire endless speculation, analysis and reassessment.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee even inspired a new field of study: bracketology.
That he is about to serve on the Selection Committee thrills UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart. He called it among the “two or three things in college athletics” that administrators would like to experience.
Barnhart, who officially joins the committee on Sept. 1, attended an orientation meeting in July. “I just tried to listen and learn,” he said. “I’m the rookie on the committee.”
Two old hands, former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese and new SEC Associate Commissioner Dan Leibovitz, plan to meet with Barnhart later this summer. The UK AD said they will help him “gently walk through” the process.
Earlier this year, Barnhart proposed not insignificant changes in how the Selection Committee operates. Echoing UK Coach John Calipari, he suggested a set criteria for judging teams and regular updates during the season so teams know where they stand.
Last week, Barnhart spoke much less critically of the committee. “I have a great respect for what they’ve done … ,” he said. “Not everyone is going to agree with everything that they do, and you’re going to get (criticism), and I get that. So I’m going to just sort of learn and grow into what my role is in that deal.”
Barnhart voiced confidence that he can handle the torrent of fan and media second-guessing that comes with Selection Committee decisions.
“That’s what they do with my job every day,” he said with a smile.