Alleva says LSU not considered for NCAA at-large bid

It’s March, so LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva always keeps his bags packed.

As a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, Alleva was in Indianapolis until Sunday night helping select the 68-team field for this year’s NCAA tournament.

Wednesday, he’s off to Raleigh, N.C., where he will help supervise men’s second- and third-round games there.

In between, he was in town long enough to speak with The Advocate on a variety of topics from selecting the tournament field to Southeastern Conference football scheduling:

LSU didn’t come up

Alleva said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss a lot of what went on in the selection committee meetings, but he did say LSU never came up for consideration as an at-large team.

The Tigers (19-13) will play at San Francisco at 9 p.m. Wednesday in an NIT first round game on ESPNU.

“They were not ever on our board,” said Alleva, who would have been required to leave the room if LSU was considered.

Alleva said he had no prior knowledge LSU would get an NIT bid Sunday night, saying there is no interaction between the selection committees of the two tournaments.

“They don’t know which teams they’ll have available until we announce them,” he said.

Alleva said he thought the Tigers were perhaps only a couple of SEC wins away from getting in the NCAA tournament, but added that a 74-70 loss Jan. 4 to Rhode Island (the Rams finished 14-18) ended up hurting LSU badly.

“That was just a killer game,” he said.

“One of the things the committee really looks at, at the end of the day, are bad losses. The Rhode Island game was a bad loss. Strength of schedule and bad losses hurt teams at the very end.”

Not surprisingly, Alleva was upbeat about LSU’s NIT bid to play at San Francisco.

“I’m pleased they get to play another game, and I hope more than one,” he said. “It’s a really good experience for the young guys, and hopefully very soon they will be back in the NCAA tournament.”

LSU has not been in the NCAA tournament since 2009.

Alleva has two more years on the selection committee through 2016. He said a committee chairman for 2015 — Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes — has already been selected, but that the chairman for 2016 would be picked this summer.

Alleva indicated he would not seek out the chairmanship in his final year on the committee, but would accept if asked.

Football scheduling

Alleva and LSU coach Les Miles have been lobbying for a change in the SEC scheduling format to have six permanent divisional opponents and two rotating opponents from the opposite division.

But Alleva said he now believes SEC athletic directors will never vote for changing the current format, which calls for six divisional opponents, one permanent opponent from the opposite division and one rotating opponent, because it doesn’t serve most of their self-interests.

“The ADs will not change their votes,” Alleva said. “The only hope for change is for the (SEC) presidents to realize it’s not an equitable schedule. They have to have the foresight and wisdom to change it.”

Alleva continues to say he is against going to a nine-game SEC schedule.

“That means seven more losses for certain teams,” he said.

The SEC has no conference schedule in place beyond the 2014 season as it continues to study the issue. Alleva is hopeful a long-term scheduling format will be adopted at least by the SEC spring meeting in May.

“I think it has to, because we have to get on with scheduling,” he said. “We can’t keep doing it one year at a time.”

Asked when the contract between LSU and Syracuse for a home-and-home series would be finalized, Alleva said only “very soon” but added that the deal will get done.

“We’re going to play,” he said.

The games would be in 2015 and 2017, with the first game likely at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome in upstate New York.

Stadium expansion

Despite an unusually cold and icy winter, Alleva said the Tiger Stadium expansion project continues to be on pace to be ready for LSU’s Sept. 6 home opener against Sam Houston State.

“The (construction) crews are working 24/7,” he said. “It’s going well.”

The project, which will add an upper deck, suites and club seats to Tiger Stadium’s south end, will bring the 90-year-old structure’s capacity to near 100,000.