NCAA president likes basketball in huge arenas

04/06/2014 6:00 PM

11/12/2014 4:35 PM

Even though the players look like ants and the ball can be hard to follow from the upper levels, the NCAA remains committed to playing its championship basketball games in football stadiums, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

“There may be people that would like to be in a tighter arena, but not the 60,000 that wouldn’t be there,” he said.

A college-basketball record 79,444 attended Saturday’s semifinals at AT&T Stadium.

“The events here [Saturday] night were pretty fabulous,” he said. “This is a superb arena, stadium and experience. There’s no better stadium probably in the country than this one.”

TV ratings record

Saturday’s Kentucky-Wisconsin game, shown on TBS, TNT and truTV, had a cable-television record 16.3 million viewers across the three networks.

Florida-UConn had 11.7 million, the second-most in history.

Stars come out

Among the celebrities attending the Final Four this weekend were Drake, LL Cool J, Common and Kevin Hart.

Drake even spent time in the Kentucky locker room after the game Saturday, giving the team a pep talk.

Of course, that’s after he spent time hanging out with his new-found best friend, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Early work ethic

UConn coach Kevin Ollie learned his work ethic as a kid mowing yards with his father’s landscaping business.

He hires someone to do his yard now but he said those experiences taught him a lot about hard work and business.

“Pops used to get me up about 4 a.m. and he didn’t pay me a lot,” he said. “I come see some of these apartments I used to cut and I know he got me.

“He got me all my life. But it really taught me how to work hard. He still cuts today. So I always see that determination and fight in him.”

Anti-social (media) Shabazz

UConn’s Shabazz Napier isn’t exactly anti-social, but he’s not into social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

He has an Instagram account but doesn’t use it, he said. And he’s stayed away from Twitter so that his self-admitted bluntness doesn’t get him in trouble.

“I see certain things that fans may say that is so disrespectful. Sometimes it’s overboard,” he said. “People will say something to your family or you, wishing you get hurt. I can understand it in the sense that they’re a fanatic, they’re a fan, but it’s a game at the end of the day.

“And I don’t want to be in a position where I say something back and I’m in the wrong for it because I’ve got to be the bigger person. No matter what my mom always told me, the cliché that sticks and stones will break your bones but not words. No, words do hurt sometimes.”

Besides, Napier said, “when I’m on the basketball court and thousands of fans are watching I think I’m networking there.”

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