As a result of New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports gambling, the NCAA will not allow any championship events to be held in the Garden State, the governing body announced Monday evening. Princeton, along with other New Jersey schools and venues, will no longer be able to host any NCAA-sponsored tournament games.
In recent years, several NCAA tournament games have been held at Princeton, including early rounds of men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer and field hockey, as well as the 2009 men’s water polo national championship. Though New Jersey is not expected to start issuing sports gambling licenses until January, the NCAA has told schools the prohibition will take place immediately, according to Executive Associate Director of Athletics Erin McDermott.
“We’re majorly disappointed,” McDermott said. “We really look forward to hosting these events. We think it’s great for Princeton, we think it’s great for the state, and it’s great for our teams to have the ability to stay home and play in their own venues, especially when class is in session ... So it’s a sad day in the athletic department, for sure.”
Princeton may feel the impact as soon as next month. Without the ban, the No. 3 field hockey team would have likely been able to host the first two rounds of its tournament, like it did as the No. 4-ranked team in 2009. If the first-place women’s soccer team reaches the NCAA tournament, it also could have hosted a postseason game, like the men’s team did in 2009 and 2010.
In announcing the prohibition, as well as the relocation of five predetermined 2013 tournament sessions — including the Division I men’s and women’s diving regionals set to take place at Rutgers and the Trenton regional of the women’s basketball tournament — the NCAA cited its policy of not holding any championship events in states with legal wagering based on single-game betting.
“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,” Mark Lewis, the NCAA’s executive vice president for championships and alliances, said in the statement. “Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state.”
Earlier on Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement published regulations governing sports gambling, prompting the NCAA’s response. Last winter, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Sports Gambling Law to allow sports gambling at casinos and racetracks following public approval of a nonbinding statewide referendum.
The state’s plan still has legal hurdles to clear, however. Federal law currently prohibits all but four states from legalizing sports gambling, and in August, the NCAA and four major American sports leagues collectively filed a lawsuit against New Jersey in an attempt to block the law.
As noted in the lawsuit, the state’s proposal would prohibit wagers on college games that take place in New Jersey or involve teams from Garden State colleges.
“That was brought to the NCAA’s attention, and they said that doesn’t matter in this policy because the issue is more that the state is providing a harbor for sports betting,” McDermott said. “The fact that New Jersey will allow that in sports is the issue more than the fact that the games are actually taking place in the state.”
The NCAA did not respond to a request for comment.
Only NCAA-sanctioned championships are covered by the prohibition, as other federations do not have the same institutional restrictions. Princeton will still be eligible to host College Squash Association Championships — the men’s team memorably won last year’s title at Jadwin Gymnasium, while the women’s team hosted its event in 2011 — and the IRA Championships, which determine national titles for women’s lightweight rowing and both men’s crews, can also remain in their most frequent location of Cherry Hill, N.J.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/16/31536/