||NCAA gambling czar Bill Saum said he believes it would be easier to get rid of the point spreads in newspapers if gambling on college games is prohibited nationwide.
In 1997, the NCAA threatened to withhold press credentials for journalists working for newspapers that published gambling-related ads. The NCAA eventually backed off that threat, but Saum said he has spoken to the Associated Press Sports Editors, a national organization of newspaper sports editors, which said that it would consider taking point spreads out of newspapers.
Tim Burke, APSE's president and assistant managing editor of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, said APSE has met with the NCAA about the issue several times over the past couple years. But he added that "as a group, the point-spread issue is somewhat out of our hands in the end because it's up to the individual publishers -- what they want and what they don't want in their own newspapers."
Bob Faiss, chairman of the gaming law department at Lionel, Sawyer and Collins in Nevada, said the demand for lines on games exists for reasons beyond gambling.
"(Saum) thinks that if they ban sports wagering in Nevada, that there will be no more odds printed?," Faiss asked. "Odds originate from around the world; publishers and people want them. And that's not necessarily to gamble. It's part of sports reporting now that has become a matter of interest. They want to know how one team stands against another, who is the underdog and who is the favorite."
According to a Harris Poll survey conducted in April 2000, 70 percent of respondents who read the spreads said they read them to obtain information or to increase their knowledge of the game. Only 11 percent said they looked at the line to place a bet.
-- Darren Rovell