The Big Bad NCAA Swings The Hammer On New Jersey, And Pretty Much WhiffsS

The state of New Jersey is going to allow sports betting, starting January 2013, and the NCAA is miffed. As Yahoo's Dan Wetzel put it,

The plan is to issue licenses on Jan. 9, 2013 and begin taking bets soon after. The move is essentially daring the justice department to do something about it. If successful, expect other states to follow quickly. It's not out of the question that within a decade or two, betting parlors would be as ubiquitous in the United States as they are in Europe.

We know that the NCAA hates fun, progress, and anything that's ever been declared vexatious by the nation's Top Ten Most Squeamish Knitting Groups. So what's the NCAA doing about this new affront basic decency? They have removed a swimming and diving event from Piscataway, lower division volleyball and lacrosse championships from Montclair and Hoboken, and part of the women's basketball tournament from Trenton. BOOM. Now that's a hissy fit.

New Jersey is forcing the Justice Department's hand in that, by legalizing sportsbooks and allowing Atlantic City casinos (along with horse and dog tracks) to take bets on sporting events, they're violating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which essentially prohibited sports betting everywhere except Nevada. (The Wikipedia page notes that that the law was originally crafted to provide New Jersey with the opportunity to legalize sports wagering within a year-long window after the legislation was passed, but New Jersey did not take advantage.) The Justice Department may not, in fact, be inclined to do anything about the change in New Jersey, and if that comes to pass, the challenge will be left up to leagues like the NFL and NCAA, whose games would be the main attraction. If this week's pull-out is any indication, the NCAA is ready to fight.

The NCAA has taken this stand in slightly altered forms before: just like when the NCAA throws its weight behind vigorous drug testing to ferret out the occasional pot smokers in their midst, or cracks down on players who get discounts on tattoos, the NCAA is using its pull here to maintain a system of rules that ostensibly protects innocence and integrity, but actually just creates incentives to keep transactions sketchy and off-the-books. The notable thing here isn't the opposition—that was predictable—it's that the NCAA's first strategic salvo in the fight against legalized sports betting is such a joke. They literally pulled a D-III volleyball tournament from Montclair. Does that do anything but disappoint the D-III volleyball players that had family in Montclair? We had to use a picture of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie up there because we couldn't find any pictures of mildly inconvenienced D-III volleyball players. The press doesn't really follow them around.

There is no reasonable debate on any of this. Fighting the legalization of something that is already so prevalent, and has always been so prevalent – let alone something that funds crime organizations rather than state budgets – is a testament to either entrenched ignorance or special interests.

The NCAA: Guided by entrenched ignorance and special interests, and willing to move as many D-III women's postseason events out of your state as they have to in order to get their way.

New Jersey's Plan To Legalize Sports Betting Incurs Laughable Response From NCAA [Yahoo]