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ESPN’s Tom Crean Blasts Big-Name Schools for Opting Out of NIT

Former men’s college basketball head coach Tom Crean went on an passionate rant on ESPN Sunday night to express why he thinks big-name schools that didn’t make the NCAA tournament field should accept bids to the NIT.

Some of the notable teams that spurned this year’s NIT are St. John’s, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Ole Miss, Indiana and Oklahoma. 

Crean, who coached Marquette, Indiana and Georgia, took his teams to four NITs, so he can see firsthand the benefits of playing in the second-tier tournament. 

Crean, who took the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003, opened his argument by explaining how there’s “plenty of time” for the transfer portal and recruiting, but there’s no substitute for the experience of game action.

“There’s not plenty of time to play. There’s not plenty of time to get your players on the floor and give them a chance to get better. There’s not plenty of time for guys to continue to play that may never get to play again, and that to me is absolutely ridiculous,” Crean said. “It’s each coach’s choice. I get it. But if you take away a chance to play the games, to put your team on the floor, let them opt out. The bowl season has it all the time. Let it happen. Who cares?”