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Lawmakers Seek Antigambling Support

April 1, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ What are the odds that Congress will pass legislation to ban gambling on college sports?

``Don’t bet against it,″ said U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer, predicting a tough fight but eventual success.

Roemer, D-Ind., is sponsoring the measure in the House. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is the Senate sponsor. Both men were joined by NCAA president Cedric Dempsey and Purdue coach Gene Keady at a news conference Friday.

``It’s a matter of the integrity of the game,″ said Keady, incoming president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

``It’s got to be handled in the proper manner. It’s not going to be a quick sprint to the finish line, it’s going to be a long series of people working together.″

Chances for passage improved when former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took control of the measure and had it assigned to his Senate Commerce Committee.

``We need the coaches behind us,″ Brownback said. ``What I really fear is it’s going to take some big point-shaving case to shock us into getting it done.″

Congress banned sports betting in most states in 1992 but exempted Nevada, whose gambling industry took in $2.3 billion in sports wagers in 1999, with 30 percent to 40 percent bet on college sports. Brownback and Leahy’s bill also would ban wagering on high school sports and Olympic events.

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson called the issue ``a no-brainer.″

``I am concerned about the future of our game. ... This is a silent killer,″ he said.

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$2 MILLION SHOT: It could be a very rewarding weekend for a Michigan man.

Not only does Greg Paavola, 37, of Three Rivers, Mich., get to see the Spartans in the Final Four _ he also gets a chance to pocket $1 million.

All he has to do is hit a 3-point basket between the two NCAA semifinal games. Paavola was randomly selected to take part in the annual Gillette 3-Point Challenge. If he misses, he gets $25,000. If he makes the shot, he gets $1 million and another $1 million goes to the Gillette Women’s Cancers Foundation, Inc.

``I’m a winner already because I get to see Michigan State in the Final Four. ... Winning $2 million would be a bonus,″ he said.

Gillette also paid out $2 million last year when Alicia Brown of Riverside, Calif., hit a 3-pointer.

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SWAN SONG: Jody Silvester, retiring after four decades as a college basketball referee, will work one of the two semifinal games on Saturday.

He just doesn’t know which one _ yet.

``I just want to go out there and do the job,″ Silvester said. ``I’ve worked in Indianapolis in the past, but I haven’t done any tournament games there.″

Silvester, 63, has officiated in every NCAA tournament since 1979. This year, he also worked the first and second rounds in Nashville, Tenn., where he officiated the Tulsa-UNLV and Miami-Ohio State games.

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PEYTON’S PLACE: Florida had an unexpected visitor at dinner Thursday night _ former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.

``We looked up and we were like, `Oh, it’s Peyton Manning,‴ Florida forward Brent Wright said. ``He just offered us good luck and said he wanted us to win because we’re in the SEC. It feels kind of good knowing he’s pulling for us.″

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FRIENDLY FOE: Like the other three teams, Florida practiced at Butler’s gymnasium, Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Gators beat the Bulldogs in the first round on Mike Miller’s last-second shot in overtime.

``We saw a couple of their players and said hello,″ Miller said. ``They’re still probably a little bitter with us, but they’re great people.″

Wright said after the awkwardness of the greetings subsided, the practice was like any other.

``It was kind of strange, at first,″ Wright said. ``But their coach enjoyed us coming over and practicing and we appreciated it.″

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