Under Pressure, Promoter Pulls Tourneys From Casino

July 27, 2001

By KATRINA HULL
Associated Press Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The promoter of three college basketball tournaments slated for Las Vegas moved them from a casino hotel Friday following pressure from the NCAA and several teams.

Pending NCAA approval, the tournaments will shift from the Paris Hotel and Casino to a new location in the city, said promoter Chris Spencer, director of Worldwide Basketball in Cincinnati.

The Washington Post first reported the move on its Web site Friday afternoon and, citing unidentified sources, said it would be to the Cashman Center, about a mile from any casino.

Spencer declined to specify the new location when asked by The Associated Press.

Cincinnati athletic director Bob Goin, whose school is entered in the Dec. 20-22 Las Vegas Classic, said organizers told the Bearcats the tourney would be moved to a convention center.

"We understand concerns of universities involved and we have asked the NCAA ... for permission to change our venue in Las Vegas," Spencer said in a statement.

The NCAA had not yet received written requests to change the tournament sites, spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said.

The sudden relocations came after NCAA president Cedric Dempsey issued a statement Thursday night saying teams were "wrong" for participating in tournaments at gambling casinos.

Spencer said at least five schools, including Purdue, contacted him urging him to move the tournaments.

"All the teams involved have been inundating the promoters of the tournament, and saying, 'Why was this the case?"' Texas A&M sports information director Colin Killian said.

Purdue and Texas A&M are also scheduled to play in the Las Vegas Classic. The field also includes Mississippi State, Richmond, Southwest Missouri State, Illinois-Chicago and Louisiana-Monroe.

The Post also reported Friday that Purdue coach Gene Keady was unaware the tournament would be in a casino when his team agreed to play. Instead, Keady said, he was told the tournament would be at UNLV.

"We are very sensitive to the NCAA wishes," Keady told The AP. "We think the organizers should try to change venues."

On Thursday, the Post reported the sponsor of a congressional bill that would outlaw betting on amateur sports in Nevada was "stunned" to learn of the games' location.

Nevada is the only state where it is legal to gamble on college sports.

Glenn Tompkins, Purdue's senior associate athlete director for business, said the Boilermakers agreed to play in the tournament before the venue was chosen. Purdue had an option to back out only if the NCAA withheld certification.

Spencer said he included the hotel as the tournaments' locations on his application for certification to the NCAA. When Spencer first promoted the event, however, the venue had not been chosen.

Dempsey said the association is reviewing the certification process and he will encourage changing the criteria when the Division I board of directors meets in August.

The NCAA's antigambling crusade has taken the organization's officials to Washington to protest the legal betting on college sports that takes place in Las Vegas casinos.

The other two tournaments Spencer is promoting are scheduled for Thanksgiving week.

The Nov. 22-24 Las Vegas Invitational features Illinois, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, Hartford, Saint Louis, Penn, Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois.

A Nov. 19-21 tournament will include Oklahoma State, UTEP, Providence, South Carolina State, Austin Peay, Northeastern. Two other teams are to be determined.

 

 

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