LAS VEGAS - UNLV president Carol Harter, a member of the NCAA board of directors, came out Tuesday against the organization's attempt to ban legal betting on college sports in Nevada.
Harter wrote a letter to her fellow university presidents in the Mountain West Conference saying she was ''strongly opposed to his initiative.''
''In fact, I am convinced such a move would worsen the situation,'' Harter wrote.
Harter echoed claims advanced last week by Nevada gambling interests when the NCAA-backed legislation was introduced in Congress that a ban on betting in the state would increase illegal sports betting and remove controls offered by legal sports books.
''Outlawing legal betting on collegiate sports would neither eliminate nor significantly reduce betting on those sports,'' Harter wrote. ''Rather, it would drive sports wagering further underground on campuses and elsewhere.''
Harter noted in her letter that legal sports betting represents only a small part of all sports betting. Total legal sports betting in Nevada in 1998 amounted to $2.3 billion, of which an estimated 30 to 40 percent was bet on college sports.
Harter said that she was ''distressed at what I see as an exercise in symbolism rather than a thoughtful attempt to curb or eliminate illegal wagering among college athletes on or around campuses across the United States.''
She warned that the proposed ban could ''do for sports betting what Prohibition did for drinking'' and called for increased education and counseling instead of the legislation.