The NCAA announced Monday a first in its history and the result of the first-ever electronic vote has had dramatic effects to high school basketball shootouts across the country and the region.
Consequently, The Times Region Roundball Rumble will no longer be allowed to host games at Valparaiso University. An alternate site for the games scheduled there on Jan. 2 is being sought.
"It's very unfortunate that we cannot partner this year with Valparaiso University on the Rumble," said Paul Mullaney, the managing editor of The Times Media Co., which has sponsored the Rumble for the past 12 basketball seasons. "They've been a great host, and we love the ARC as a facility. But we realize VU must comply with NCAA regulations, whether you agree with those regulations or not.
"It's also unfortunate this issue basically flew under the radar, across the country, until recent weeks. A lot of headaches could have been avoided."
NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 was first proposed in October of 2009 and became effective on April 28, 2011.
The Bylaw states, "An institution [including any institutional department (e.g., athletics, recreational/intramural)] shall not host, sponsor or conduct a nonscholastic basketball practice or competition in which men's basketball prospective student-athletes participate on its campus or at an off-campus facility regularly used by the institution for practice and/or competition by any of the institution's sport programs."
Also in the text of the proposal it reads, "For purposes of Bylaw 22.214.171.124, a nonscholastic event is defined based on the entity or person conducting the event, not by the event participants. An event is not a scholastic event simply because the participating teams are high school teams but rather whether a scholastic entity is operating the event."
On Monday, the NCAA announced that in its first electronic override vote, the Bylaw was upheld. Only 58.59 percent (355 schools) of the schools voting were in favor of the override. To be successful 62.5 percent is needed to override the Bylaw.
"The rule is designed to prevent institutions from hosting these events to bring elite prospects to campus or to facilities regularly used by institutions in order to circumvent recruiting rules," said Christopher Radford, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA in an email to The Times. "Scholastic entities, such as a high school athletics association, must run these events for them to be permitted on campuses or in facilities used by Division I teams."
The two Rumble games originally planned to be played at the ARC -- Class 2A No. 2 Bishop Noll vs. 2A No. 6 North Judson and Class 3A No. 3 Andrean vs. 3A No. 2 Lebanon -- will be forced to be played elsewhere.
"Having anticipated today's final outcome over these past few weeks, we have been working behind the scenes to secure a backup site and we were presented multiple options," Mullaney said. "We should be in a position to announce those backup plans very soon, after the final T's have been crossed and I's dotted. But we can assure the region's basketball fans that they'll still be able to see two great basketball games that day."
Lebanon athletic director Phil Levine has followed the NCAA rule and the way it's being policed very closely. Lebanon was excited headed into this winter season.
The Tigers were scheduled to play at Conseco Fieldhouse, Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, Purdue's Mackey Arena and Valpo's ARC.
The day before Lebanon was scheduled to play Western Boone at Butler, Levine got a phone call. The news was the worst.
"Butler was not aware of the NCAA's new rule," Levine said, "and neither was Purdue or Valpo. It's disappointing for our kids. Most of them are not going to play D-I basketball. These events are a great opportunity for them to have special memories.
"Now, these are all gone."
The Big Rivals event at Butler was canceled. The Super Hoops event at Mackey is close to being over. The Rumble will continue, but at a new facility.
Levine also said the interpretation of the bylaw will hurt more than just basketball players. Lebanon's band, dance team and cheerleaders were all excited about participating in these events.
Levine said he understands what's behind the NCAA rule. During the "dead period" of college recruiting in the summer, AAU tournaments were being held inside college gyms that gave an unfair advantage for the recruiting of student athletes.
But the way the rule was written and is now being defined, it is now taking opportunities away from high school teams during the high school season.
"It would be fair to say we were surprised by the NCAA's new definition of a scholastic event," said VU athletic director Mark LaBarbera. "We were not alone. There were a lot of people all over the state who were as surprised as we were.
"I agree with the intent of the rule, but the summer issues and events like this are two different things. The Rumble has been a great community event where a lot of kids and their fans have had the thrill of competing on a Division I floor. Those kids, who are never going to play Division I basketball, are now having that taken away from them."