TEAMS Will Stay, Not Play, at Casino

Thursday, August 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Teams competing in three college basketball tournaments this season in Las Vegas won't play at a casino hotel, but they will stay there.

The NCAA gave approval Wednesday to move the three tournaments from the Paris Las Vegas casino hotel ballroom to Valley High School, which is four miles from the strip.

On Thursday, the NCAA said it would ask its staff to develop a measure to be considered in November that would deny certification of any event conducted in a venue where there is sports wagering on intercollegiate athletics.

``Clearly, conducting these events in such a venue is inconsistent with the position the NCAA has taken regarding sports wagering,'' NCAA Division I Board Chairman William ``Brit'' Kirwan said. ``But there is no criteria in place at the moment that permits the association to deny certification of such events.''

Chris Spencer, the promoter of the tournaments, said Thursday the move was made at the urging of some of the participating teams.

``I guess we are happy that this chapter is over,'' he said.

``The NCAA has said that it's not where they are staying _ it is where they are playing,'' Spencer said.

NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said two weeks ago teams were ``wrong'' for playing in tournaments at casinos.

Spencer, of Worldwide Basketball Inc. in Cincinnati, said he had contracted for rooms at the Paris and the casino is separate from the hotel.

The NCAA does not have a policy prohibiting the teams from staying at gambling establishments.

``That's the prerogative of the schools,'' NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said. ``That is not to say that at some time it is not an issue that will be addressed, but that is not the current policy.''

Valley High School seats 2,000 and has a college-sized basketball court, Worldwide Basketball spokesman Fred Huff said.

Having the tournament at the Paris would have been more convenient, Huff said.

``It actually would have been a heck of a tournament at Paris,'' Huff said. ``Nobody would be passing a single slot machine getting off the elevator.''

Teams in the Nov. 19-21 Las Vegas Tourney include Oklahoma State, UTEP, Providence, South Carolina State, Austin Peay, Northeastern.

The field for the Nov. 22-24 Las Vegas Invitational is: Illinois, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, Hartford, St. Louis, Penn, Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois.

The Dec. 20-22 Las Vegas Classic field has Purdue, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Richmond, Southwest Missouri State, Illinois-Chicago and Louisiana-Monroe.