C.M. Newton, the selection committee chairman for the NIT, said today that UW was left out of the tournament for the most straightforward of reasons: There were 24 better at-large teams.
He implied that UW would have made their field if not for the eight automatic berths, but that with only 24 slots to fill -- rather than 32 -- the Huskies were among the last eliminated, and were probably hurt most by their 1-10 road record.
I also asked Newton about a couple of conspiracy theories that have been floated by some disappointed fans, and he was impressively willing to answer both:
&bullBecause the NIT is televised on ESPN, the cable network influenced the committee to ignore anyone from the Pacific-10 Conference, which is televised on Fox.
Newton's reaction: "ESPN isn't even in the picture. We seed and bracket the field and then we go to ESPN and say 'Here are the brackets, and now you tell us which games you want.' We'll jockey some (starting) times … but we don't move dates, we don't move teams around to accommodate them. They don't have any say so. Now, they used to. This thing used to be a made for TV reality show instead of a basketball tournament, but that's not the case now."
&bullFormer Santa Clara coach Carroll Williams is on the NIT selection committee, and some fans theorized that he carried a grudge against UW for canceling its series with West Coast Conference member Gonzaga.
Newton's reaction: "I will tell you that Carroll Williams was probably one of the more disappointed people of all that Washington didn't get in."