ESPN’s annual tip-off marathon won’t happen this season

FILE - In this April 3, 2017, file photo, ESPN's Dick Vitale stands with North Carolina fans before the team's championship game against Gonzaga in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Glendale, Ariz. Vitale says he has turned his life “24-7” into raising money for pediatric cancer research. “I will do this is until my last breath,” he said Wednesday, May 3. “One of the reasons I'm upset is that just four cents of every dollar raised to fight cancer goes to pediatric cancer research and that shouldn't be happening.” (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — There will be no 24-hour basketball marathon on ESPN to mark the start of the college season this year.

The broadcasting giant says the annual event, which ran for nine seasons, presented programming challenges and won’t be part of this year’s schedule.

The event featured more than a dozen games spread out over 24 consecutive hours.

Spokesman Josh Krulewitz says the company may explore a return of the marathon concept at some point in the future.

He notes that more than 3,500 college basketball games will air on ESPN’s platforms during the 2017-18 season.

ESPN recently announced it will air a new early-season tournament, the Phil Knight Invitational, which will feature 16 teams playing across two separate brackets from Nov. 23-26.

One bracket features Butler, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Portland State, Stanford and Texas. The other includes Arkansas, DePaul, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland and UConn.

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