Hopefully, college basketball fans won’t lose any sleep over this news: ESPN is abandoning its 24-Hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon for 2017.
There still will be games televised by the company’s various channels on Tuesday, Nov. 14, notably the Champions Classic doubleheader in Chicago matching Michigan State vs. Duke and Kentucky vs. Kansas. But the joy of watching a team like Winthrop playing Manhattan just as the workday begins will be no more.
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ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz told Sporting News the Marathon “presented some programming challenges and will not be part of our schedule this season.”
Krulewitz stressed ESPN will be introducing the gargantuan PK80 tournament — a 16-team event Nov. 23-26 honoring the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight — as well as televising more than 3,500 games this season on the network’s cable channels and online streaming services.
“We will continue to innovate in new ways and may explore the return of the marathon concept in the future,” Krulewitz said in an email.
The Marathon first appeared on the ESPN schedule in 2008, with a midnight tip-off between Massachusetts and Memphis. With the introduction of the Champions Classic in 2011, it became the centerpiece of the Marathon schedule.
This has obviously not been a great month for college basketball, with the end of the marathon coming so soon after the sport became wrapped in a bribery scandal that included assistant coaches at four major schools charged with criminal offenses.