NCAA Final Four; Was Ty Lawson Bad?

Duane WinnCorrespondent IApril 3, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Ty Lawson #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels moves the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Tar Heels defeated the Sooners 72-60 to advance to the Final Four.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

I really don't have a problem with Ty Lawson.

By now you've heard that the North Carolina guard created quite a stir, when it was discovered that he won $250 gambling, earlier this week in a Detroit casino.

No big deal.

He's of legal age and he was engaged in a perfectly legal activity (I won't even raise the question of where he got the seed money).  Or, that Coach Roy Williams apparently sets no limits on his players' off-court behavior.

Lawson was just having some fun.

You don't expect a scholar-athlete to be hunkering down with his books in a hotel room? Right?

In addition to not only admitting that he gambled in Detroit, the site of the Final Four, Lawson also said that he's gambled on several other occasions on road trips.

"The only time I lost was in Reno. That's when everybody on the team lost," said Lawson at a Final Four news conference on Thursday, "It's the only place I lost. The other five or six times I did gamble, I won at least $500. Last night, it was all craps. It was like within an hour."

I won't even mention that NCAA President Miles Brand does a double-shuffle in making a distinction between sports gambling and gambling in general.

"The scope of sports wagering among intercollegiate student athletes is startling and disturbing," Brand said. "Sports wagering is a double threat because it harms the well-being of student-athletes and the integrity of college sports."

On the Lawson matter,  Brand said he would merely "prefer" athletes don't gamble at the casinos.

"Well, I warn against that slippery slope. It's a fair question," said Brand. "What a student does, play bingo in his church for example, while we discourage that, we prefer not to try and regulate that particular kind of activity. But it's highly discouraged."


Let's move on, he's saying. This is a gray area.

We don't like gray areas, just like we don't like crossword puzzles that we can't solve and movies that have an ambiguous ending.

Need I point out that Lawson appears to have a "startling" and "disturbing" problem already when it comes to gambling.

Rushing to the casino was one of the first things he did when the team touched down in Detroit. This sounds like a preoccupation. He seems to win every nearly every time he visits a casino.  Sounds like self-denial, and the amounts that Lawson purportedly won? He sounds like he's more than a recreational gambler.

Finally, I won't point out that the NCAA, by scheduling a Final Four in a city with three casinos, muddies the picture even further.

When it comes to an opinion on this matter, I'll pass.