NCAA to consider buzzer-beater reviews during tournament

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The NCAA on Friday said that a committee examining sports wagering will consider whether buzzer-beaters during the NCAA tournament should be reviewed, clarifying the idea as it was presented Thursday.

“To correct our previous comments, an NCAA membership ad hoc committee examining sports wagering will work with appropriate standing membership committees, specifically playing rules, to direct review of all NCAA polices that might be impacted by the new gambling environment in regular season and postseason play, including reviews of last-second shots,” the NCAA said in a statement. “This action is in keeping with our commitment to maintain the integrity of the games.”

On Thursday, NCAA director of media coordination and statistics David Worlock said in a statement that shots made at the buzzer would be reviewed “in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics.”

A source later said that membership committees will make the decision as to whether the use of instant replay will be mandatory on last-second shots during the NCAA tournament, even if they do not impact the outcome of the game.

The discussion of this policy comes in the wake of two recent late-game officiating rulings in college hoops — both of which affected the outcome of point-spread wagers.

Both Oklahoma (against Iowa State on Monday) and Creighton (at Villanova on Wednesday) scored last-second 3-pointers that appeared to have come after time had expired. However, because neither shot affected the outcome of the game, the officials followed NCAA protocol and did not use instant replay to see if the shots were released in time.

The NCAA tournament is America’s most heavily bet event. With that comes scrutiny from industry stakeholders.

Regardless of the NCAA’s decision, conferences and certain schools — operating independently of the NCAA — are also tackling sports betting integrity issues in the lead-up to college basketball’s premier event, according to numerous experts.

“The real need in the United States for integrity monitoring comes at the collegiate level,” said Matthew Holt, president of U.S. Integrity in Las Vegas. “[Referees] at the college level, especially in college basketball, show the highest levels of vulnerability.

“The decision-makers in the collegiate space are making real integrity services a priority rather than just some add-on component to a data or media deal.”

The Pac-12 has recognized the value of integrity monitoring services as well. The conference partners with U.S. Integrity, a firm that also provides integrity monitoring services to other conferences and schools. An NCAA spokesperson told ESPN’s Ryan Rodenberg that conferences are free to enter into such arrangements on their own.

All of this is happening less than a year after the Supreme Court ruling that allowed states beyond Nevada to authorize sports betting. Eight states now permit legal sports gambling.

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