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NCAA's March Madness Beer Policy Fools No One

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- During March Madness, the National Collegiate Athletic Association reminds its men's basketball audience frequently that it absolutely abhors alcohol ... on paper.

The short-form version of its alcohol policy is stacked with reminders that the governing body "has, for many years, banned sale of alcohol at NCAA championships" and has recommended that all member institutions "Prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages during all preseason, regular season, conference and postseason intercollegiate athletic events" and "Prohibit on-site alcohol advertising during all preseason, regular season, conference and postseason intercollegiate events."

Neutral sites are another story. As are the various positions of NCAA universities and athletic conferences. As a result, alcohol sales -- and beer sales specifically -- are intrinsically tied to college sports and, especially, March Madness.

It's up to the host venues themselves to determine whether to serve alcohol, which is how the Sprint Center in Kansas City brought beer to the Big 12 Conference tournament for the first time in nine years. Even if alcohol sales are prohibited in the main seating area, they're typically A-OK for the folks spending the big bucks on suites.

The beer taps at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will be flowing during the Final Four. Even if beer signs are covered inside the stadium itself, the NCAA will allow broadcast partner CBS (and March Madness partner Turner) to air 60 seconds worth of beer ads per hour, since the NCAA's television ad policy allows for ads featuring products of 6% alcohol by volume or less. While it bars those ads from the championship game itself, they're free to run before tipoff and after the final buzzer.

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