Publishing ads for gambling services on college games could cost newspapers their NCAA basketball tournament credentials.
Renewing a policy they say has been effect for several years, members of the NCAA tournament committee voted recently to cite USA Today for accepting ads to aid gambling on college games.
Asked specifically if any publication that accepts ads for tout services could be in danger of losing its credentials to the NCAA basketball tournament, NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey said, “That is my understanding.”
The only newspaper he cited by name was USA Today.
“I see a half a page every Monday morning in USA Today that deals with that kind of opportunity for people to call in,” Dempsey said Saturday. “Even though they’re only advertising professional lines, just call and ask them what Duke vs. North Carolina is. They’ll give it to you. The basketball committee has a strong concern about this. I have a strong concern about it.”
USA Today has co-sponsored gambling seminars at the NCAA tournament the past two years.
“I don’t think by looking at the media the NCAA is going to find the answer they’re looking for,” said Monte Lorell, USA Today’s managing editor for sports. “But at the same time, I’ll withhold comment on the issue itself until I have a chance to respond to the NCAA.”
Two years ago, the committee backed away from a threat to deny credentials to newspapers that print the daily betting line.
“We do not wish to start a nuclear war with the news media,” an NCAA official said at the time.
The NCAA is now taking a different approach and targeting ads for tout services and 800-number lines for gamblers interested in betting on college games.
“We are distinguishing between the (betting) line and advertising dollars,” said Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, a member of the tournament selection committee.
David Cawood, an assistant NCAA executive director, said the policy has been in effect “since the late 1970s,” and that many major publications have been threatened with denial of credentials if they did not stop running tip services for betting on college games.
“We’ve never had to deny credentials because every time the publication dropped the ads,” Cawood said. He added that ads promoting tips on pro sports are not prohibited by the NCAA.
“That is not our area of concern,” he said.
Last fall, Boston College was rocked by a gambling scandal that led to the suspension of 13 football players.
“These are very impressionable young people,” Dempsey said. “They’re not adults playing these games. They can get exposed to all kinds of opportunities that in many cases they’re not prepared to deal with.
“All of you are aware of what we’ve been through with Boston College,” Dempsey added. “As Walter Byers once said, ‘If there’s anything that will bring down collegiate athletics, it will be sports gambling.’ I applaud the concern of the basketball committee in their efforts.”
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