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March 18, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA will not postpone the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments if the United States goes to war with Iraq this week, the organization’s president said Tuesday.

The games will go ahead as scheduled after tournament officials consulted with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, NCAA president Myles Brand said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the young men and women who are in the desert and elsewhere defending our freedom,” Brand said. “We are also concerned that life go on as normal. We see no reason, after consulting with Secretary Ridge, to make any alterations to our plan.”

The NCAA men’s tournament would be the first big sports event affected by any conflict in Iraq. The play-in game, between North Carolina-Asheville and Texas Southern, was scheduled for Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

The first round begins Thursday, which would be after the 48-hour deadline President Bush set Monday night for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war.

The women’s tournament begins Saturday.

By MARK JEWELL

Associated Press Writer

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