08/29/2001 11:00PM

NCAA's info blacklist


NCAA Bylaw 10.3 reads: "Staff members of a member conference, staff members of the athletics department of a member institution and student-athletes shall not knowingly provide information to individuals involved in organized gambling activities concerning intercollegiate competition."

The NCAA, in its continuing effort to distance itself from any association with gambling, has taken this edict a step further with its own blacklist of touts and handicapping services who college sports information directors are not supposed to talk to.

The NCAA has created the list to keep information on injuries and such out of handicappers' hands. High-profile touts such as Jim Feist, Russ Culver, and Wayne Root are on the list, as are people who have worked for them. There are a number of former NFL players who have been involved with tout services on the list, including Randy White, Mark Gastineau, Jim McMahon, Craig Morton, Dan Pastorini, Drew Pearson, Jack Snow, and former coach Hank Stram. The full list is at

But the blacklist isn't limited to those who make bets or provide selections. Legal bookmakers on the list include Joe Lupo of the Stardust, Bob Gregorka of the Coast Resorts, Marc Nelson of the soon-to-open Palms, and Richie Baccelieri, the former Caesars Palace and MGM Grand bookmaker who is now in the Caribbean with WIT Sports. Many off-shore books are on the list, too.

Don Best Sports was added to the list this year, along with founder Al Corbo and his son, Dana, who now runs the company. The NCAA won't have to worry about Al calling for information. He died in 1998.

Although the list may remind some of Nixon's enemies list, it's mostly irrelevant to everyone in the sports betting industry. No one that I talked to, ranging from touts to bookmakers to sports gaming journalists, get their information directly from coaches, players or sports information directors. In the past, handicappers had to be more active to get "inside info" but now, every minor injury to a key player is pretty much common knowledge within hours on the wire services, talk radio, the iInternet, or on TV shows such as SportsCenter.

"In this day and age, that thinking on the NCAA's part is totally antiquated," said P. Carl Giordano, managing editor of The Gold Sheet, which is on the list along with publisher Mort Olshan. "We don't need them to get stats or recaps of the games. It's all on the Internet. This is a symbolic gesture on the NCAA's part. I understand what they're trying to do, but they're 10-15 years behind the times."

Root said he also understands what the NCAA is trying to do, but he takes it a step further and says they should get their heads out of the sand.

"The NCAA needs to grow up and stop making believe that millions of bright, educated professional men and women aren't betting on NCAA games," said Root, who is the chairman of Global Sports & Entertainment, a publicly traded company. "And guess where they learned to bet? At college. That's why my typical client is young, male, college educated professional, or entrepreneurial and high income. For the NCAA to persecute and denigrate sports bettors is to persecute and denigrate their own graduates, their own alumni, their best contributors."

While Root's outspoken attacks on the NCAA make it understandable why he is on the list, there are other people who are included on strictly a "guilt-by-association" basis. Larry Grossman has a daily radio talk show in which he advises bettors not to throw away their money on touts and insists there is no such thing as a "lock." Yet he is on the list, presumably because he interviews bookmakers and handicappers on his show.

"I'll use a line from Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin'," said Grossman. "Dylan wrote, 'Don't criticize what you can't understand.' That's what the NCAA is doing. They're sticking their heads in the business of sports betting when they don't even realize that the legal sports books here are their best friend when it comes to keeping the games clean. It's their holier-than-thou attitude. They live in a cesspool, yet they're trying to clean up the neighbor's yard."

My curiosity got the best of me and I called some NCAA schools to ask for some information. I identified myself as being from the Daily Racing Form but didn't say I was making picks in the paper. No one refused to talk to me or asked if the information was to be used for gambling purposes.

One Division I sports information director, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the policy is "don't ask, don't tell" when his staff takes calls. "We get a ton of calls leading up to a game, from the newspapers, radio and TV stations who cover our team, plus the opposing team and the national media," he said. "We don't have the time to grill everyone about why they're asking for information, and it would be insulting to the legitimate media, so we pretty much give what they're asking for and move on to the next request."