Fantasy sports league may run afoul of NCAA
HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- State and university officials are working to prove a Montana law that allows fantasy sports leagues does not violate the NCAA's stance against gambling on sporting events.
An NCAA spokeswoman recently said the University of Montana should not have hosted playoff games last season because the state has a form of legalized sports gambling.
"We did have an administrative oversight previously, but that was an error on our side and it's not going to happen again,'' NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said last week. "We've taken steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
The issue came to light after NCAA officials, citing association rules, threatened to ban all playoff games in Delaware if the state legalized sports betting.
In the course of discussing the Delaware issue, it was noted that Montana hosted two football playoff games last fall despite the fact Montana is one of four states that allow sports gambling.
The "administrative oversight'' comment concerned football fans and administrators at the University of Montana and Montana State, as well as state gambling officials. The state law couldn't be changed unless the legislature was in session.
The state would like to avoid changing the law and still have Montana and Montana State eligible to host playoff games, giving the teams a competitive edge as well as the revenue from extra home games.
Montana's law allows people to win money in fantasy leagues, but not from the outcome of actual games. The state also has a pari-mutuel fantasy football game, administered by the Montana Lottery, with some proceeds going to the Montana Board of Horse Racing.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law earlier this month that allows betting on the outcome of sporting events and the state's Supreme Court ruled it constitutional on Thursday.
Montana law specifically states that it authorizes fantasy sports leagues but does not authorize betting on the outcome of an individual sports event.
"We're looking at it very, very carefully to see what specifically the NCAA doesn't permit, what the basis for that is,'' UM attorney David Aronofsky said Friday. "We haven't formed any conclusions.''
Montana State athletic director Peter Fields said he and Montana AD Jim O'Day just learned of the issue last week.
"Jim and I will work through the state to come to a resolution for this issue,'' Fields wrote in an e-mail Wednesday, adding that he voted to support an expansion of the NCAA's antigambling measure. The rule took effect in 2004 and applied only to basketball. It was expanded last August to apply to all NCAA sports.
O'Day said Friday that NCAA committees will likely meet to discuss the issue this summer.
Like Delaware, Montana is one of four states grandfathered under a 1992 federal law that bans sports gambling. The others are Nevada and Oregon.
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