INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Maddox and Christian Laettner found themselves in a similar position Saturday night at the Hoosier Dome. In the semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament. At the foul line. With the game, and the season, riding on their shots.
"There's a lot of pressure, with 47,000 people screaming in the arena and the rest of the country watching," said Maddox, whose two free throws with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining helped give the Jayhawks an eight-point lead en route to a 79-73 victory. "It was kind of fun, especially after I made them."
"There was no doubt in my mind or my teammates' minds that I was going to make them," said Laettner, whose two free throws with 12.7 seconds helped the Blue Devils upset Nevada-Las Vegas, 79-77. "I don't think there was much pressure."
Pressure or not, those two free throws made the difference between Duke playing Kansas tonight for the national championship or the Runnin' Rebels looking to repeat. But where they didn't make that much difference was in the money earned by their respective schools as a result.
Duke will make less this year than it did last season in Denver -- an estimated $800,000 compared to $1.8 million last season -- as a result of the NCAA's new plan to distribute revenues from its seven-year, $1 billion television contract with CBS.
NCAA executive director Dick Schultz said the plan was a direct outgrowth of the television contract, with the idea of helping reduce the seemingly out-of-control costs of running a full-scale Division I athletic program.
"We wanted to eliminate the so-called $300,000 free throw," Schultz said here Saturday night. "And we wanted to help broad-based programs."
Schultz said that, under the new plan, each appearance in an NCAA tournament game is worth $40,000 to a team's respective conference, rather than $300,000 to the individual school. Of the $108 million dispersed for this year's tournament, only $30 million resulted from performance.
The plan is based on a revolving six-year basis and rewards conferences for its members' success over that period. The big winners this year were the Southeastern Conference, which went from $1.7 million to $4.6 million and the Big Ten, which jumped from $4.4 million last season to $7.1 million. The ACC went from $5.3 million to $6.3 million.
"It will be under constant review," said Schultz. "It will be fined-tuned and changed, if needed, depending on what our members want."
There are some who believe the system is still inequitable, that it still rewards the haves rather than the have-nots. Princeton coach Pete Carril said last month that it's a bit unfair, but not surprising. "The same thing happens in the real world," said Carril. "The rich get richer. But at least it shows they're trying."
Duke athletic director Tom Butters said Saturday that it's only fair that the Blue Devils give up some of their share from the basketball tournament since the school often receives revenue from the ACC because the league makes its football teams split their bowl money.
"It's the best plan we could come up with," said Butters.
In the past, ACC teams could keep all of their first-round revenue and retain 70 percent of the rest. Now all the money goes into the pot. But Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said yesterday that more still has to be done for the players.
Krzyzewski spoke about the inequity in how players are not allowed to work while they are on scholarship and, despite the increase in revenues generated by the NCAA tournament, receive only four tickets and are often have to tell some friends and relatives to stay home.
"I think we should take better care of the people who play the games," said Krzyzewski.
But Krzyzewski does like the new distribution system, even though he never thought of his players "taking free throws worth $250,000." He thinks more should be done in college football, similar to what is being done in basketball.
University of Miami athletic director Dave Maggard said that the new system is not that different from the old, though it does take the pressure off the player. Five years ago, LSU guard Fess Irvin was told by some boosters that his missed free throw against Indiana cost the school a lot of money.
"You can talk all you want about taking away the pressure of the big free throw," said Maggard. "But you're still talking about a team in a conference getting rewarded for going as far as they can."