It's not over until the fat lady sings. Play through to the final whistle. It ain't over 'til it's over. Pick any sports cliché you want, but know this—the University of Montana's fight with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is far from over.
To rehash, the NCAA announced in late spring it would ban Montana from hosting postseason football games unless the state reexamined gambling laws that allow betting in sports fantasy games. The complaint, which stemmed from Delaware's much more egregious sports betting policy, threatens to nix especially lucrative tailgating weekends at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The University of Montana has regularly hosted postseason games for almost a decade, each of which brings in millions to the local economy.
The back-and-forth lasted a couple weeks before the NCAA, having defended its position, simply stopped talking. Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock sent a letter to NCAA General Counsel Elsa Kircher Cole in late June outlining why Montana law doesn't violate association rules. According to Assistant Attorney General Judy Beck, Bullock's office has yet to hear back. That's making Griz Nation a little uneasy.
But there is a snippet of news in all this anxious quietude. The university has followed the situation with rapt attention, as the loss of postseason football activity would rob the institution–and the community–of a major financial boost. David Aronofsky, chief legal counsel for UM, says the NCAA intends to hold a meeting in early August to finally address Bullock's letter and hopefully resolve the issue. Why the delay? Aronofsky was told the NCAA's general counsel is currently tied up on a business trip to Asia.
That's all anyone knows—or will know. The NCAA did not return repeated phone calls from the Independent about the August meeting—or, for that matter, about what the association is doing in Asia. Aronofsky adds that the NCAA has closed the meeting to outsiders, essentially shutting the door on UM, state officials or the media. Aronofsky says the university has been transparent about the entire ordeal, and only wishes the NCAA would operate the same way.
Good luck. As with every step of this debate, the NCAA seems to work from an ivory tower, unwilling to discuss the merits of the state's argument unless it's on the NCAA's terms. That leaves all of Griz Nation with nothing to do but sit on its hands and wait to see if the fat lady's anywhere in sight.