The successes of the 2012 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship have set the stage for the NCAA to celebrate 75 years of March Madness next season.

Near-record number of fans flocked to the games and associated events during the overall tournament in March and the 2012 Men’s Final Four in New Orleans March 31 and April 2. Viewership was strong as well, as all 67 tournament games were broadcast live by Turner and CBS for the second year. 

Jeff Hathaway, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, cited the expanded 68-team tournament field, strong parity in competition and the NCAA’s partnership with Turner and CBS as keys to this year’s accomplishments.

“The 2012 tournament was a resounding success for our teams, our schools, our student-athletes and basketball fans,” Hathaway said as the men’s basketball committee began its spring meeting [Thursday] and Friday in Indianapolis. “As a committee, we look forward to next season and the 2013 tournament to celebrate the rich history of 75 years of men’s college basketball and the thousands of student-athletes who have benefited from their academics and athletics experience.”

2012 FINAL FOUR HIGHLIGHTS
• 73,361 fans attended the Final Four session on March 31, the second-highest attended session in NCAA tournament history.
• 70,913 fans attended the National Championship Game on April 2, the third-highest title game attendance.
• 144,274 fans attended the Final Four, the third-highest total attendance for the Final Four.
• 1,566 media members were credentialed for the Final Four, the most in the history of the event.
• A record 200 countries across the globe received live broadcasts of the games.
• The semifinal games averaged a 9.0 Nielsen rating on CBS, the highest rated Final Four since 2005.
• The championship game delivered a 12.3 Nielsen rating on CBS, the second-highest rated championship game in seven years.
• Total tickets sold for the second- and third-round games (403,427) and the regional semifinals and finals (168,096) jumped 9 percent from the previous year.

Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances, said the Association is planning a series of events and initiatives during the upcoming basketball season to celebrate the 75th season of March Madness. The events will culminate at the 2013 Men’s Final Four in Atlanta.

Lewis emphasized that the celebration will honor historic moments on and off the court and those individuals who contributed to those successes in competition, in classrooms and in communities across the country.

“We will pay tribute to the special moments and history of the tournament, and we will celebrate coaches and teachers as well as the community service contributions made by student-athletes and universities across the country,” Lewis said. “This is a chance for us to highlight the entire collegiate athletics experience through the platform of men’s basketball.”

As part of the 75th celebration, Lewis announced that all three NCAA divisions will play their 2013 tournament championship games in Atlanta.

The Divisions II and III championship games will join the Big Dance and be played on Sunday, April 7, between the Division I men’s semifinals on Saturday, April 6, and the Division I men’s championship on Monday, April 8.

Philips Arena is the tentative site of the Division II and III championships and exact times will be announced at a later time. The Division I semifinals and championship will be played at the Georgia Dome.

The Division II championship will be broadcast live on CBS, as it has in past seasons, and the Division III championship will air live on the CBS Sports Network.

“This is a first in the history of NCAA basketball, and our membership is energized to play all three men’s championships games in the same city during the same weekend as a unique and special way to celebrate 75 years of March Madness,” Lewis said.

Related:
2011-12 attendance sees slight uptick