ST. LOUIS – The commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference says he would rather have the tournament title game televised on the Food Network if CBS can’t guarantee it will televise the entire game nationally.
Doug Elgin told The Associated Press on Monday that central and northern Illinois and all of Indiana didn’t see the conclusion of Creighton’s 68-65 nail-biter over Wichita State. Wichita State shaved a 13-point deficit to one in the final minute, and Malcolm Armstead missed a potential tying 3-pointer just before the buzzer Sunday.
“They’ll never be able to make this up to us,” said Elgin, adding the conference had received “hundreds” of complaints from irate fans. “Our concern is our most important game of the year carries nationally – all of it. That’s certainly what we bargained for.”
CBS switched some viewers to the start of Indiana’s victory at Michigan for the Big Ten title. The 10-team Missouri Valley has four schools in the areas that missed the finish of the championship game – Bradley, Illinois State, Indiana State and Evansville.
CBS spokeswoman Jennifer Sabatelle said the decision to switch games affected about 17 percent of the country and was made when Creighton had a 10-point lead with 3:50 remaining at 3:05 p.m., time for another tip-off.
“We pulled out the home territories of the Big Ten to get them to the start of the Michigan-Indiana game,” Sabatelle said. “The overwhelming majority stayed on the Missouri Valley championship.”
CBS acquired the rights to the title game through ESPN, with the Valley’s consent.
Elgin said the finish of last year’s title game, Creighton’s overtime victory over Illinois State, was pre-empted in certain markets, too. Discussions with CBS since Sunday’s game have not been satisfying for Elgin, who called the decision “inexcusable” and a “bitter pill to swallow” for the conference.
“I’ve vented a lot on this, maybe to excess,” Elgin said, referring to his Food Network crack. “I do think we want to continue to have discussions on this and make sure our jewel is protected.”
Creighton returned to the rankings at No. 23 and had an impressive RPI ranking of 25 after winning the conference tournament for the second straight year and earning an automatic NCAA tournament berth. Wichita State was ranked earlier in the season and had an RPI of 39 and could get an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
The Valley televises every regular-season game on Fox Sports Midwest and via the Internet on ESPN3.
Elgin had little to say about talk that Creighton might leave the Valley to join the so-called “Catholic Seven” in a reformed Big East. He added the Valley won’t be caught in the lurch.
“We respect the right of any institution to determine its own destiny,” Elgin said. “We haven’t been informed of any invitation extended or discussions made, and we’re prepared to move forward strategically if any decision is made.”