Thursday, June 12, 2003

With reports circulating that UW has already decided to fire Rick Neuheisel, the NCAA spin that has been lapped up by sportswriters is that the regulations in question are unequivocal: NCAA tournament pools are a violation of the rules. In fact, the conventional wisdom is wrong; one wishes that the sports pages were less filled with "Steno Sue" Schmidts and Jeff "Kneepad" Gerths, and would actually question the nonsense they are being fed.

To wit, NCAA Bylaw Article 10.3 reads as follows:
Staff members of a member conference, staff members of the athletics department of a member institution
and student-athletes shall not knowingly: (Revised: 4/22/98 effective 8/1/98)
(a) Provide information to individuals involved in organized gambling activities concerning intercollegiate
athletics competition;
(b) Solicit a bet on any intercollegiate team;
(c) Accept a bet on any team representing the institution;
(d) Solicit or accept a bet on any intercollegiate competition for any item (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) that has
tangible value; or (Revised: 9/15/97)
(e) Participate in any gambling activity that involves intercollegiate athletics or professional athletics,
through a bookmaker, a parlay card or any other method employed by organized gambling. (Revised: 1/9/96, 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97)
As you can see, there are a number of activities that are clearly prohibited, such as using a bookie to place a bet, betting a teaser card at a casino, or even the handshake bet on a game that probably constitutes the majority of bets made on sporting events in this country. NCAA Tournament pools, on the other hand, are not mentioned, either specifically or generally, even though that has been a national tradition for almost two decades, and even though the legality of such pools brings into question whether the state views that as "gambling". The sheer randomness of a pool emphasizes the luck quotient to an extent not typically seen in sports gambling; if anything, a pool has more in common with a state-run lottery than the activities the regulation is supposed to guard against, such as point shaving and game fixing. That Neuheisel received a memo from the school stating that an outside pool was appropriate under the regs in question would seem to strengthen any lawsuit he might later file against the university (and the NCAA) for wrongful termination.


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