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ANCHORAGE -- The Great Alaska Shootout will remain a Thanksgiving Day fixture here at least three more years. And the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks is safe for at least two more years.
The NCAA said in a letter to UAF Athletic Director Randy Pitney that any exempted college basketball tournament that has filled future tournament fields will be allowed to play through those years with the exemption rule intact.
The exemption rule was created to encourage teams to play in faraway places like Hawaii and Alaska. It allows teams to play three tournament games with only one of the games counting toward their season limit.
The rule was struck down last week by the NCAA's Management Council and faces a final showdown April 26 when the organization's board of directors votes on the matter.
If the board of directors votes down the rule, then the exemption will take effect in August of next year.
But some events will get a reprieve -- if they have signed contracts from an entire tournament's worth of teams, dated no later than July of last year.
UAA has seven teams signed for each of the next three seasons, which will carry the eight-team Shootout through 2003. UAA is the eighth team in the field.
UAF has seven teams signed for each of the next two seasons, which will carry the Top of the World Classic through 2002.
UAA Athletic Director Steve Cobb said the Shootout has signed contracts for partial tournament fields all the way through 2006. It's unclear whether the NCAA will allow the school to fill the rest of the field.
"That seems to be a hot question," UAF's Pitney told the Anchorage Daily News. "If you only have six of seven teams (signed), are they going to let you do those tournaments?"
Thirty-five events take advantage of the exemption, including tournaments like the Preseason NIT and the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.
Although any exempted tournament could continue if the rule goes into effect, those events no longer would be likely to attract marquee teams.