JUNEAU (AP) -- A basketball flew around the Senate on Thursday as lawmakers passed a resolution opposing a proposed NCAA rule change that could spell disaster for two preseason college tournaments held each year in Alaska.
The proposed change would eliminate an exemption for preseason tournaments that lets teams count only one game against their 28-game season limit, even though they actually play three games at a tournament.
That could destroy the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage and the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks. The exemption helps both events draw top teams north in November, providing high-end basketball for fans, money to the University of Alaska and out-of-season business for hotels and restaurants.
The tournaments also provide tough competition for the university's teams, and inspire local players to play Division I basketball, said Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, who sponsored the nonbinding resolution.
''It's an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete against the best,'' Leman said.
Rules Committee Chairwoman Drue Pearce used a basketball as a gavel during a brief meeting to send the measure to a vote of the full Senate.
The measure passed 20-0, with lawmakers in a lighthearted mood. The Senate voted to waive some of its rules so lawmakers could pass the resolution in time to beat the NCAA's deadline for public comment on the proposed rule change.
Several lawmakers added their names as cosponsors, including Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, who played basketball at Oregon State.
''We wanted the NCAA to know that we're serious about our tournaments,'' Wilken said.
Only Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis raised a halfhearted objecting, noting that more serious issues seldom get such preferential treatment.
''We're pro-basketball,'' Ellis said. ''But keep in mind that there are some other things out there that need expedited action as well.''
The resolution is scheduled for a vote in the House tomorrow.
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