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NCAA distances itself from daily fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel

The fantasy sports website FanDuel is shown on

The fantasy sports website FanDuel is shown on October 16, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA is pulling the plug on daily fantasy sports games.

In a letter sent Tuesday, college sports' largest governing body notified executives from DraftKings and FanDuel it would cancel future meetings and ban advertising from the two popular websites during NCAA championship events such as the men's basketball tournament.

Because the NCAA believes the fantasy games meet the definition of wagering, it has decided to ban all advertising, on site and on television, during championship events -- a potentially big hit for two companies that have become major advertisers, particularly on television. The NCAA said its advertising policy for broadcasters "has a longstanding section that states we will not accept advertising from sports wagering entities."

The ban does not necessarily apply to the College Football Playoff, which is not run by the NCAA. While the CFP abides by NCAA bylaws, the organization has discretion over advertisements during its three games.

"What I can say is that we have not discussed it," CFP executive director Bill Hancock told The Associated Press. "Whether we will or not remains to be seen. We're watching the situation with great interest."

The unregulated daily fantasy sports industry is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers after it unleashed an advertising campaign promising to make millionaires out of players competing on the sites. Customers pick player lineups and win based on points earned during a single day.

Nevada gambling regulators have told daily fantasy sites to get out or get a gambling license while federal lawmakers are calling for hearings. Several lawsuits hoping to become class-action suits have also been filed.

An already wary NCAA sent the two sites a cease-and-desist letter on Aug. 27, explaining the contests were "inconsistent" with the values and rules governing college sports.

Then came Tuesday's letter from Mark Lewis, executive vice president of championships and alliances, who wrote that it would be "inappropriate" to continue the discussion with the two daily fantasy sites because they are currently under investigation at the state and federal level.

"As Mark Emmert, Donald Remy and I explained to you in our Aug. 31, 2015 meeting, we believe that your product should not be offered in the college space for a variety of reasons," Lewis wrote, referring to the NCAA president and its top attorney. "We do not believe a further meeting with your organization will change that view."

Lewis also said the NCAA is reminding schools about the rules, regulations and potential punishments for anyone participating in DraftKings or FanDuel contests.

The NCA is notifying all referees and game officials who might be used during NCAA championships that they cannot participate in the paid fantasy games and is asking executives from the two companies to help verify none have yet. Lewis wrote that the NCAA will submit a list of names soon.

"The integrity of our college contests is paramount," Lewis wrote.

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