Sources: NIT expected to play semis, final away from Madison Square Garden for at least the next two years

Start spreading the news. The NIT is headed out of New York.

The NIT semifinals and final have been played annually at Madison Square Garden since 1938, but that run is ending, with sources telling ESPN that those rounds are expected to be played at a different location for at least the next two years.

The men's NIT, which is run by the NCAA, is exploring where to play the next two seasons. It's accepting bids from numerous venues, sources said, with the possible locations running the gamut from historical arenas like Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to a resort destination like Las Vegas. A decision is expected in the next few months.

While the NIT's relevance has faded in recent decades as the NCAA tournament has emerged as college basketball's premier event, it has remained a New York City staple. For college teams upset in their conference tournaments or snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee, there remained an allure to playing in the NIT and in the arena known as "The Mecca" for basketball.

Sources said the decision was mutual between the NCAA and Madison Square Garden. MSG declined comment.

The NIT was canceled in 2020 and held in multiple locations in North Texas last season due to COVID-19, which opened up eyes to the possibility of the event being played elsewhere. The 2021 NIT was the first time the semis and final weren't played in New York City.

The NIT holds a remarkable history, considering that the tournament's MVPs range from DePaul's George Mikan (1945) to Memphis' Dajuan Wagner (2002) and UNC Charlotte's Cedric Maxwell (1976) to UCLA's Reggie Miller (1985).

In the early days of its existence, the NIT was considered college basketball's top postseason event. A confluence of events changed that over time, including the NCAA's eventual elimination in 1975 of the rule that said only one team from each conference could play in the NCAA tournament. But as late as 1970, teams turned down NCAA tournament bids to play in the NIT.

Even as the NIT evolved into a consolation tournament, it maintained its place in Madison Square Garden. While no one is ruling out a return to New York City somewhere down the line, this year's NIT Final Four -- between Xavier, St. Bonaventure, Texas A&M and Washington State -- is expected to be the last one at MSG in the immediate future.