DETROIT — North Carolina G Ty Lawson has already won big at the Final Four.
Don't expect the NCAA to make commercials about it, though. Hours after arriving in Detroit, the UNC star hit a casino and left with a little extra cash.
"We got in (Wednesday) night, and Coach (Roy Williams) gave us a curfew of 1:30," Lawson said. "I went over to Greektown and won about $250." Lawson said he played only craps and earned his winnings in about an hour.
Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Lawson, 21, is legally of age to visit a casino.
"I'm just amazed that people are going to make a big deal about it," Kirschner said.
While neither illegal nor a violation of NCAA rules, gambling is a touchy issue for an organization already skittish about holding its biggest event in a city that counts three casinos among its attractions.
In a separate news conference at Ford Field, NCAA president Myles Brand said the organization only prohibits gambling on college and professional sports. But Brand said he would prefer athletes don't gamble at the casinos.
CALIPARI DEAL: The record contract John Calipari got to leave Memphis for Kentucky (nearly $4 million a year for eight years) has raised questions of its appropriateness during an economic crisis.
"Well, there's obviously (a) market dimension to it," Brand said. "I think, however, you have to ask some very hard questions, whether this is really in tune with the academic values …"
New class: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the national title game between their teams, Michigan State and Indiana State, headline the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2009. Joining them: former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote; former Memphis State/UAB coach Gene Bartow; Oklahoma All-American Wayman Tisdale; Kentucky State scoring machine Travis "Machine Gun" Grant; Walter Byers, the former executive director of the NCAA; and Bill Wall, executive director of USA Basketball from 1975 to 1992.
Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report.