Following a permanent injunction banning sports betting in New Jersey issued by U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp in Trenton, the NCAA has lifted its ban against Garden State schools being allowed to host tournament games and championships.
ESPN reports that the NCAA informed New Jersey member schools through a memo Thursday.
Gov. Chris Christie attempted to pass similar legislation last year, but the proposed bill was challenged by the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues. The court has since determined that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was constitutional.
“As a result, effective immediately, New Jersey-based member schools are allowed to host non-predetermined sites of NCAA championships. Going forward, New Jersey schools and conferences may also be considered to host future championship events. We are excited that New Jersey student-athletes can now compete on their home field,” the NCAA said in a statement.
The NCAA has given the state of New Jersey an ultimatum: appeal Shipp’s injunction, lifting the ban on sports betting in the state, or have the ability to host NCAA championship tournaments and events.
The Prudential Center in Newark was predicted to host the East Regional in men’s basketball in 2015, but missed the opportunity because of Christie’s sports gambling law. Instead, Syracuse, NY received the tournament hosting privileges.
“As a result, the member-created NCAA policy states a championship cannot be hosted in a state with legalized single-game sports wagering,” the NCAA stated.
Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak stated why New Jersey had made the move to legalize sports gambling in the first place.
“New Jersey is simply trying to responsibly regulate what goes on illegally every day in our state and across the country, often with organized criminal elements running the show. It’s an overkill response from the NCAA to penalize student athletes and their families like this.”
The state of New Jersey has been sued by the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball in the last year because of sports gambling legislation. Christie hoped to begin awarding sports betting licenses this year, but doesn’t look to have that ability for quite some time.
John Engel is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports, covering the PAC-12 and Mountain West conferences. John works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in addition to Rant Sports. Follow: @engelsportsguy.