NCAA opens door to cham­pi­onships in states with sports bet­ting

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

The NCAA is open­ing a door for states with le­gal­ized sports gam­bling to host NCAA cham­pi­onship events and of­fi­cials in Ne­vada are al­ready set to get in the game as soon as they can.

The gov­ern­ing body for col­lege sports on Thurs­day an­nounced a “tem­po­rary” lift­ing of a ban that pre­vented events like col­lege basketball’s NCAA Tour­na­ment from be­ing hosted in states that ac­cept wa­gers on sin­gle games. The move comes three days af­ter the Supreme Court over­turned a fed­eral law that barred most states from al­low­ing gam­bling on pro­fes­sional and col­lege sport­ing events.

“On Mon­day we con­tacted the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence, our NCAA col­leagues, we also spoke with our lo­cal and re­gional lead­ers. It’s our in­tent to present com­pet­i­tive bids for na­tional events, and we want to be ag­gres­sive in that space,” UNLV ath­letic di­rec­tor De­siree Reed-Fran­cois said. “We know that Las Ve­gas as a com­mu­nity, we have a proven track record of suc­cess in host­ing large scale events.”

NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert said the board of gov­er­nors will con­sider per­ma­nently re­vis­ing its pol­icy at fu­ture meet­ings. But the NCAA said it will not change its rules that pro­hibit gam­bling on sports by ath­letes and all ath­letic depart­ment em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing coaches.

Em­mert also is call­ing for fed­eral reg­u­la­tions of sports gam­bling, join­ing the NFL, NBA and other leagues.

“Our high­est pri­or­i­ties in any con­ver­sa­tion about sports wa­ger­ing are main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of com­pe­ti­tion and stu­dent-ath­lete well-be­ing,” Em­mert said in a state­ment.

Em­mert has said in the past he hoped law­mak­ers would make ex­cep­tions for col­lege sports if sports gam­bling is al­lowed.

“There might be a carve­out to elim­i­nate col­lege ath­let­ics from sports gam­bling sim­i­lar to what we did with daily fan­tasy sports,” Em­mert said dur­ing a col­lege sports fo­rum in De­cem­ber in New York. That would re­quire state-by-state lob­by­ing un­less the fed­eral govern­ment steps in to reg­u­late.

Lead1, an as­so­ci­a­tion of ath­letic di­rec­tors for the 130 schools that play ma­jor col­lege football, is push­ing for reg­u­la­tion, too.

“Eighty per­cent of our ath­letic di­rec­tors have in­di­cated that they op­pose col­lege sports bet­ting,” said for­mer U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, who is the pres­i­dent of Lead1. “Our ath­letic di­rec­tors are con­cerned not only about the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of young stu­dent-ath­letes to in­duce­ments of point shav­ing, but the in­creased com­pli­ance costs to keep their pro­grams clean.”

As for host sites, most of the NCAA’s ma­jor cham­pi­onship events are al­ready booked through 2022, in­clud­ing all rounds of the men’s basketball tour­na­ment. Women’s basketball tour­na­ment sites are booked through 2020.

By sus­pend­ing its pol­icy pro­hibit­ing states with le­gal­ized gam­bling from host­ing cham­pi­onships, the NCAA can go for­ward with al­ready de­ter­mined sites re­gard­less of what states do with gam­bling laws in the near fu­ture.

If the NCAA per­ma­nently lifts the ban on states with le­gal­ize sports bet­ting host­ing NCAA-run events, the first and big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary could be Ne­vada and more specif­i­cally Las Ve­gas.

JOHN BAZEMORE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Alabama play­ers right, line up to be­gin a play against Ge­or­gia dur­ing the first half of the NCAA cham­pi­onship game last Jan­uary in At­lanta. The NCAA is open­ing a door for states with le­gal­ized sports gam­bling to host NCAA cham­pi­onship events.

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