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Coaches vs. Cancer Is Now Florida International vs. the Gazelle Group

I didn't think much when UNC's schedule, released yesterday, opened with Florida International. FIU, on the other hand, was quite surprised, as they were under the impression they'd be traveling to Ohio State. And they're pissed.

"Would they do what they're doing to us to Duke, or to North Carolina? No," Garcia said. "But they'll do it to FIU and any other school out there like FIU."

The general press response seems to be "Too bad, you should have read your contract," but having a travel destination changed from Columbus to Chapel Hill is a big deal for a small-market team. The Gazelle Group, organizers of the tournament, pulled a bait and switch and FIU is rightfully pissed. They shouldn't be surprised, though.

The entire Coaches vs. Cancer "tournament" is a scam, you see. For most of the participants, it's not a tournament at all. The opening games, set at the member institutions of the top 4 "seeds", are even more meaningless than the matchups would have you believe. UNC, Ohio State, Cal and Syracuse are already guaranteed slots in the championship rounds at Madison Square Garden, and are the only four teams who at any point have their games determined by their performance in earlier play.

What's in it for the other eight teams, all on the level of UNC opponents FIU and N.C. Central? Well, the NCAA allows in-season tournaments to count separately from the 27-game regular season limit – in your one tournament a year, you ca have up to four additional games. So by participating in this tournament, playing one game against UNC or Ohio State, Florida International then gets to have three additional games scheduled; FIU even managed to have those three games scheduled at home, with all the additional revenue that provides. They're being paid off for their opening fig leaf of an initial game. It's a brazen flouting of the NCAA rules, naming your event a tournament, meeting the minimal qualifications and then destroying the spirit of the law. No one the Gazelle Group representative is so confused. He thought FIU was a willing participant in the scam, and is now shocked to find they were actually taking the Ohio State game seriously. 

Florida International will almost surely drop this. They need the revenue from the extra games, and the athletic director has already gone silent after the initial outburst. Just remember come November what sort of tournament you're actually watching, and wonder whether the NCAA will ever enforce a rule when it's not in their monetary interest. I wouldn't hold my breath.