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NCAA misses the point ... again

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published October 24. 2012 4:00AM

A more cynical fellow would view the following news and probably thank the NCAA for absolving us from spending five days in Trenton. But then, it's the NCAA: forever wrong, but always confident.

It's a week removed now from the NCAA's decision to relocate all of its championship events from New Jersey because of Gov. Chris Christie's proposed sports-wagering bill. Christie's bill would allow patrons to bet on sporting events in Atlantic City, among other state venues. The NCAA's sports wagering policy prohibits "the conducting of any championship session in a state with legal wagering that is based on single-game betting," otherwise known as wagering that involves point spreads or money line bets.

Hence, the Sun National Bank Center, Trenton's downtown arena, has lost the 2013 women's basketball regionals. There's a good chance the UConn women would have played there.

"Maintaining the integrity of sports and protecting student-athlete well-being are at the bedrock of the NCAA's mission, and are reflected in our policies prohibiting the hosting of our championships in states that provide for single game sports wagering," said Mark Lewis, the NCAA's executive vice president of championships and alliances, in a statement.

"Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state … (so that) student-athletes can have the best possible competitive experience."

Once again, the NCAA, extending a premise to the point of absurdity, has allowed perception to stage a coup d'état on common sense.

The NCAA has also decided to relocate championships for Division I swimming and diving (Piscataway), Division III men's volleyball (Hoboken), Division II women's lacrosse (Montclair) and Division III women's lacrosse (Montclair).

Read that again: Division I swimming and diving, Division III men's volleyball, Division II women's lacrosse and Division III women's lacrosse.

Have you ever known anybody to bet on Division I swimming and diving, Division III men's volleyball, Division II women's lacrosse and Division III women's lacrosse?

How would you even do so?

What, the NCAA is afraid of point shaving at a swim meet? And how does one point shave at a swim meet?

Have Henry Hill make some kid drown on purpose?

I can't stand it.

Let me just say that in the old days (the good old days) I used to bet on pro football, college football, baseball, college basketball and pro basketball. Not just (cough, cough) in Vegas, either. I can't imagine the reaction from the wiseguys had I called and said, "Gimme a 10-team parlay with Villanova swimming and Conn College lacrosse."

I mean, how stupid are these people, exactly?

"The NCAA wants to penalize New Jersey for legalizing what occurs illegally every day in every state and often with the participation of organized crime," Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Christie, said in published reports. "But the NCAA looks the other way for that? Ludicrous and hypocritical."

And also shortsighted. If the NCAA is so convinced that a proposed gambling bill would tear at the foundation of its championship events, just ask that the games get taken off the board. As in: You can't bet on them. It used to work that way in Vegas for all UNLV games. Of course, you've got a better story if Division I swimming and diving, Division III men's volleyball, Division II women's lacrosse and Division III women's lacrosse ever made the board in the first place.

Somehow, the masses will forge on if they can't take Coast Guard volleyball as a three-dig favorite over Anna Maria.

But now the NCAA, in its ever noble quest to have perception trump reality, now must find venues outside of New Jersey.

Someone should have gotten to presidential debate moderators Jim Lehrer, Candy Crowley and Bob Schieffer and begged them to make the NCAA a debate topic. Just think of all the undecided sports fan votes out there just waiting for the right answer: blow it up and start over.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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