No Shot At New Jersey Hosting #MarchMadness Through At Least 2022
If you were planning on attending a March Madness game in New Jersey in the near future, don’t hold your breath. The NCAA recently released the championship sites for the #NCAATournament through 2022 and N.J. is nowhere to be found.
The list included more than 500 future Division I, II, and III championship sites and get this – there were no basketball games, period. The only time that New Jersey will be a #NCAAHost is during the 2020 Division III women’s field hockey championships and the 2019 Division III men’s volleyball championships, which are considered small apples to the crowds that the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments draw in every year.
So What Gives?
The NCAA may still be keeping their distance from New Jersey because of the state’s numerous and ongoing attempts at legalizing sports betting
The Timeline of the New Jersey Sports Betting Case
New Jersey is currently undergoing a very public battle to get sports betting legalized in the Garden State. N.J. is in the process of appealing its case to the Supreme Court, but the rift between the state and the NCAA has been longstanding since 2011. Here is a quick timeline of the N.J. sports betting case:
With a voter referendum, sports betting was approved at New Jersey tracks and casinos. Gov. Chris Christie then signed a law to permit Vegas-style sports betting at licensed facilities.
Four of the professional sports leagues – the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – and the NCAA sued New Jersey citing that allowing sports betting would threaten the integrity of the game. The US Third Court Circuit of Appeals sides in favor of the leagues, but states that NJ could decriminalize their existing sports betting laws.
New Jersey attempts to repeal sports betting prohibitions in the state but again, the same sports leagues decide to file suit.
The Third Circuit rules in favor of the NCAA, NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA leagues 2-1, spurring New Jersey to file for an en banc hearing in front of all 12 judges of the US Third Circuit Court.
The hearing results in a 10-2 vote siding with the NCAA, however, Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie’s dissent mentioned that PASPA in itself is unconstitutional. New Jersey takes action and appeals the case to the Supreme Court.
Not The First Time NJ Gets Snubbed
Even before the NCAA released their new host sites, the association made it abundantly clear that they were no longer interested in a relationship with NJ. Prior to the 1st attempted sports betting law being passed, a Final Four was hosted at Meadowlands, the 2011 Eastern Regional was held at Prudential Center, and Rutgers was home to Division I swimming and diving. Once the initial suit was filed in 2012, Mark Lewis, NCAA Executive VP of Championships and Alliances, had the following to say:
“Maintaining the integrity of sports and protecting student-athlete well-being are at the bedrock of the NCAA’s mission… Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state.”
Keep in mind that though the state wanted to offer sports betting in New Jersey, the law was not in effect at the time of the ban and still is not effect now. The NCAA did revoke the ban once the court ruled in their favor, however, they made it clear that they would again enforce their authority over championships should the state decide to appeal the law. We can now fast-forward to 5 years later and see that the NCAA kept their word, as the biggest NCAA basketball event has not been hosted in NJ since 2011.
Future Friendship Between NCAA and New Jersey?
The Supreme Court requested that the solicitor general, currently Jeff Wall, file a brief as to whether or not N.J’s sports betting case should be heard. We expect the brief to be filed by May with a possible decision by SCOTUS in June or July. Considering that the NCAA is a plaintiff in the case along with the pro leagues, don’t get your hopes up high for a resolution between the two anytime soon. Though, depending on you look at the situation, the fact that the NCAA awarded the state any type of championship game could be considered a slight glance (but not really a full step) in the right direction.
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