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March 14, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: NCAA tournament online pools

Forget "So You Want to Be a Millionaire?" How about winning $10 million? That's the come-on for Web sites such as Sandbox.com, CNNSI.com and Foxsports.com. All you have to do is pick every single NCAA men's tournament game correctly, which of course is never going to happen. But you can still win anything from a Caribbean cruise to a car for coming close.

According to Scott Newman of Bloomberg News, at least 3 million people will participate in online NCAA pools. But the NCAA is not real thrilled. Pools are a form of gambling, and that scares the NCAA.

"We're adamant about doing anything we can to get these things as far away as possible from any appearance of gambling," NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro says.

The NCAA has taken some action where it has some leverage. It has stopped ESPN.com from giving away two Final Four tickets to its pool winner and made CBS SportsLine.com give away its top prizes of cards and a truck in a random drawing rather than the more marketable pick-the-winner format.

But the NCAA doesn't have any clout with other online services. "It's infuriating," Renfro says. "But unless they use the NCAA logo, all we can do is throw up our hands."

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