KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Fiesta Bowl has been in the news the last few weeks for all the wrong reasons.
A self-investigation revealed a culture of excessive spending on bowl employees and politicians. The bowl's chief executive, John Junker, was fired, and two other top officials resigned.
The bowl game has new spending policies, but it will stand in front of the NCAA bowl-licensing committee on April 28 in New Orleans and defend its existence. Bowls aren't operated by the NCAA but must be approved by the organizing body.
Bowls have lost their license for poor financial situations. This will be a first hearing for bad behavior.
The Bowl Championship Series, which conducts the BCS national title game along with the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls, also is reviewing the 276-page report and has the power to revoke the Fiesta's BCS status.
If that happens, look for the Cotton Bowl to join the BCS -- which might happen after the current four-year deal expires with the 2014 national title game in Pasadena. The question becomes, would the Cotton join or replace the Fiesta in the BCS?
Best guess: Fiesta gets publicly flogged, but keeps its BCS status. But will Tostitos remain the main sponsor?
NCAA tournament review
The Division I men's basketball committee lets the dust settle on the tournament and then returns for a meeting to review everything from the selection process to the podium ceremony. The group will have two major changes to discuss: the First Four and the multiple networks.
What they'll conclude is the First Four mostly worked. And the four-network concept was a hit.
Virginia Commonwealth's inclusion in the First Four proved the committee didn't whiff on that at-large choice. It got some selections right, some wrong (Colorado), but when the Rams made it all the way to the Final Four, the committee folks led by chairman Gene Smith had to feel vindicated.
But the schedule needs to change. First Four games played Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, fed winners into regionals on Thursday and Friday. One team, Clemson, won in the early moments of Wednesday morning and played the first game around noon on Thursday in Tampa, Fla.
"We've got to talk about that type of thing," Smith said at the Final Four.
An idea: Split the First Four sites and play on the same day -- one doubleheader in Dayton, one in a more western site: Kansas City, Denver or Salt Lake City. Guarantee winners don't play until Friday.
As for the viewing public, they were well-served. The tournament's overall numbers were the best since 2005. A remote was required for the first two weeks, but nobody missed a moment of any game they wanted to see start to finish.
Sports bars might have taken a hit. Before, when CBS carried the action exclusively and your favorite team wasn't beamed to your market, you found it, usually at a sports bar. But with CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV involved, the action came to you.
"The place we've gone the last four years is a big Ohio State and Kansas bar," wrote college basketball fan David Brill in an email from Houston. "For the Ohio State-UTSA game, I saw exactly two OSU fans in the area where it was the game on the big screen. In past years, Buckeye fans HAD to come to a sports bar. This year they just had to tune their home TV to TNT. There was a noticeable downturn in the crowd for both Thursday and Friday."
Kansas City once again proved to be a prime viewing market. For the Connecticut-Butler final, Kansas City pulled down a 19.7 rating, far above the 13.3 national number, and ranked eighth nationally.
NBA draft, then lockout
The timing is unfortunate for underclassmen who want to enter the NBA draft, which takes place on June 23. One week later is the deadline for the NBA and the players' union to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement or risk a lockout.
Union executive director Billy Hunter said a lockout is likely, so underclassmen have more to consider.
Underclassmen have until April 24 to declare for the draft. The withdrawal deadline is May 8. Already, Ohio State All-America freshman Jared Sullinger said he's returning.
Others, such as Kansas twins Marcus and Markieff Morris and superstar Kemba Walker of national champion UConn, have announced their departures.
What's a prospect to do?
Drafted players can't get paid by the teams. They can, and probably would, get paid by their agent.
Big decisions loom for such players as Texas freshman Tristan Thompson and Colorado sophomore Alec Burks, who told a Boulder, Colo., reporter last week that he already had his fall semester classes picked out.
Look for the prospect of the lockout to not scare off too many underclassmen. They'll get paid, one way or another.
Ed O'Bannon lawsuit
During the Final Four, Butler forward Matt Howard was asked about college athletes getting paid, and the NCAA must have loved his answer.
"Forty thousand a year, that's a pretty good salary if you think about it that way," Howard said.
That's about the price of a Butler athletic scholarship. But what about compensation for Howard or any other athlete after college if the school or NCAA uses his likeness in a video game?
Howard will get nothing, and that question is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon and at least two dozen other former athletes, including Oscar Robertson, against the NCAA and EA Sports.
The opening arguments are at least a year away, but the topic picked up steam at the Final Four, a month after a U.S. District Judge allowed the suit to proceed.
The NCAA has denied there is any merit in the lawsuit, but the NCAA has lost big before. In 1999, the courts forced the NCAA to pay $54 million to restricted-earnings coaches.
The NCAA takes in $771 million annually in television rights fees, and NCAA president Mark Emmert said it's time to explore ways to better fund athletes -- short of compensating them for the likeness. He recently told USA Today that increasing the value of a scholarship to cover expenses like travel and laundry is on the table.
As for the O'Bannon lawsuit, Emmert said: "I'm not going to comment on any specific cases."
But this could be a game-changer. Plaintiff attorneys say the process will result in payment to thousands of athletes. But all kinds of questions would arise. Who gets paid and who doesn't? How much and who determines the value?
This is a fascinating lawsuit in which the essence of college sports -- a scholarship being the only form of compensation -- on trial.