Coach's Corner

I was reading USA Today this week and saw an interesting article in the Business /Money section titled, "Online Betters Furiously Ante Up For March Madness".

Considering the "gambling" relationship to the fiasco caused by the NCAA's singling out of the University of Washington, it was a must read for me.

I know, I know, it's time to let the Neuheisel era go, but the fact is, the hypocrisy of that whole Basketball betting pool scandal still rubs me the wrong way. About the only good thing was that the NCAA got exposed for the prejudicial and deceitful organization that it is.

Of course they also got exposed for their ineptness and it ended up costing them millions. To have picked on the Huskies and to have specifically single out the Husky coaches was reflective of the NCAA's complete disregard for fairness and judicial integrity.

Do you really think the Huskies were the only college program in America to have a basketball office pool?

I'll admit, the profile of Rick's pool outside the office was a bit higher in stake than the run-of-the-mill office pool, but still, let's not be naïve. When the NCAA decided to look into the office pool at the UW, they were using a firehose to put out a candle.

The NCAA March Madness is a big part of the American sports culture and next to the Super Bowl and World Series is clearly one of America's greatest sports passions. One of the obvious things that make it so is the gambling. Just about everyone gets involved in some sort of gambling, even if they are not basketball fans.

Office pools run rampant. I know it, you know it and the NCAA knows it. David Price, their lead investigator, knows it, yet he purposely and with full deceit launched an investigation on "only" the University of Washington and, specifically, Rick Neuheisel.

Had they not came in with such a sneaky approach, there would never have been "The Lie" that brought down Rick and his program.

For those of you who didn't see the USA Today article, it only covered the tremendous amount of online betting - the numbers were staggering. There are actually hundreds of online betting sites that are expected to rake in $1 Billion to $1.3 billion in wagers during March Madness alone.

The web allows for gambling on a massive scale and an estimated $3.5 to $4 billion will be bet worldwide on the tournament with a third of it over the internet.

Legally, $80 million to $90 million will be bet on the tournament in the 182 legal sports books in Nevada. It's not just professionals, but also average everyday people involved in office pools.

It is this last category that accounts for over 2 billion dollars in wagers. You and I know that pools exist everywhere but why was it that it was only investigated at Washington?

The NCAA knowingly distributes their brackets to help encourage the office pools, the gamblers, and the sports books. Their logo appears on each and every one of the paper brackets and they know full well what the intent is. Get people involved by making a wager of some kind. Make them follow the tournament because they have a bet involved. It is easily the biggest money maker for the NCAA and the gambling only heightens the interest.

So, let's take a look how this hypocrisy hurt innocent people. Take Randy Hart, for example. His name was implicated in the scandal as having participated in the pools. He had a letter placed in his personnel file and he was implicated both privately and publicly for being involved in a pool. The truth is Randy Hart never gambles. He never put a penny in any pool. He was "convicted" of having known about the pools and therefore was guilty of not turning people in.

What a bunch of crap.

Ultimately the NCAA and David Price got what they wanted. They got rid of Rick Neuheisel, simply because they wanted to. They totally embarrassed the UW simply because they chose to. They persecuted and reprimanded only coaches at one of the member school for "gambling" on college basketball.

But it did cost them a couple million. That had to hurt Mr. Price a bit to have to give some coin to Neuheisel.

So, with all that went down at Washington, one would only assume that the NCAA would make sure they had the proper wording in their own gambling rule. But nooooooo (with apologies to the late John Belushi), they chose not to add "pools" to the rules. The current 2005 NCAA manual for "compliance" still reads the same;

10.3 Gambling Activities
Staff members of a member conference, staff members of the athletics department of a member institution and student-athletes shall not knowingly:
a. Provide information to individuals involved in organized gambling activities concerning intercollegiate athletic 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, THROUGH A BOOKMAKER, A PARLAY CARD, OR ANY METHOD EMPLOYED BY ORGANIZED GAMBLING. (Revised 1/9/96, 1/14/97)

The intent is to eliminate the fixing of games or altering the outcome of games (like happened at ASU) and to discourage the gambling by student-athletes or staff members. 10.3c essentially states that you can't bet on your own school. The rest is designed to eliminate associations with "organized gambling or gamblers.

An office pool is surely not "organized gambling" unless of course it is run by a casino, an off shore internet site, or the mafia.

10.3b is the only part of this whole rule that covers anything close to a violation for participating in pools. To solicit a bet is to go to a betting institution and place a wager on the outcome of a specific game.

The whole section is so obviously nebulous that you would think, that given the problem at Washington, that the NCAA would choose to edit, rewrite or at least become more specific with regard to the exact activities they wanted to forbid.

Yet, they chose not to clarify their own rules and after Rick was fired, decided they didn't want to persecute all the other schools who had the exact same pools.

It sure seems like we have a rule that only the NCAA can interpret, and applicable only when they feel like interpreting it. To have effectively denied and or dismissed the "pools" at every other university while trying to investigate and charge the University of Washington was reflective of the hypocrisy of the NCAA. Top Stories