Las Vegas tournament organizer Chris Spencer said Wednesday the NCAA has approved the move of his three exempted holiday tournaments from the Paris Hotel and Casino
to Valley High School in suburban Las Vegas.
Valley High was one of the 13 high schools used in last month's adidas Big
Time Tournament, the largest high school tournament of the summer. The
tournament was attended by hundreds of coaches from all three divisions, as
well as NAIA and junior colleges. The tournament was held during the final
week of the evaluation period, which allows college coaches to watch
prospective recruits. The gym seats 2,000 fans.
"It has a college floor and it's a better place than the one we had
in Puerto Rico," said Spencer, who organized two of the three tournaments
that were held in Puerto Rico the past few seasons. "It might be better than
the gym they play the Maui Invitational in. Having the college floor is
critical. All these coaches know that gym. It's not what we wanted to do but
it will work out fine."
Spencer was forced to move his tournaments out of the casino after
complaints came in from U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), NCAA president
Cedric Dempsey and athletic administrators and a few selected coaches, like
Purdue's Gene Keady, who are in one of the three tournaments.
The most pressing problem for Spencer is filling the first
tournament. The Las Vegas Tourney has only six teams -- UTEP, Austin Peay,
TCU, Northwestern State, Providence and Oklahoma State -- for Nov. 19-21. The
Las Vegas Invitational is set for Nov. 22-24 with Illinois, Georgia Tech,
Iowa State, Saint Louis, Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Penn and
The third and final tournament run by Spencer in Las Vegas is
scheduled for Dec. 20-22. The Las Vegas Classic includes Cincinnati, Purdue,
Mississippi State, Richmond, Illinois-Chicago, Louisiana-Monroe, Southwest
Missouri State and Texas A&M.
Exempted tournaments count as one game against the maximum 28
regular season games. Each team is guaranteed three games in the tournament.
Teams are allowed to play in exempted tournaments twice every four seasons.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.