The National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, voted to create an investigatory committee to study legalized sports betting. The Board of Governors Ad Hoc Committee on Sports Wagering will meet to examine sports betting’s explosive expansion in the US and its effects on different aspects of NCAA athletics.
The Board of Governors is led by chairman G.P. “Bud” Peterson. Peterson is also the president of Georgia Tech University. After the meeting, Peterson issued a statement, saying:
“The NCAA and its members continue to take a thoughtful approach to the issue of sports wagering. The core values of protecting student-athlete well-being and the integrity of competition are at the heart of these efforts. We must continue to evolve and adapt our approach as the landscape continues to change and sports wagering expands in the United States.”
Ostensibly, the NCAA’s chief concern is the health of its students
NCAA rules strictly prohibit players and staff involved in NCAA athletics from betting on sports. Violators can suffer dire consequences, including loss of eligibility for players.
Still, by its own admission, the NCAA estimates that 26 percent of male athletes gamble on sports. And 8 percent of them do so more than once per month.
One of the major concerns for the governing body is problem gambling. Young people have a higher vulnerability to getting addicted to various vices, and gambling is no exception. Apparently, NCAA male golfers are of particular concern, gambling three times as much as other NCAA athletes.
So, the organization’s Sport Science Institute will host a Sports Wagering and Well-Being Summit to address problem gambling. The summit will bring together members of the sports betting industry and mental health profession to discuss ways to implement effective safeguards.
Really though, it’s about money
There is no doubt that some aspect of the NCAA’s concern is pure and surrounds athlete safety. Gambling addiction can be as destructive as an illicit drug habit, but even easier to hide.
However, make no mistake about the fact that the NCAA wants to keep a stranglehold on its students’ finances as completely as possible. Any sort of encroachment or alternate avenue to money for athletes meets with strident opposition and penalty from the NCAA.
As a whole body of the organization and member schools, the NCAA takes in billions of dollars in revenue each year. The organization itself earned $1.1 billion in 2017.
Also, don’t overlook the fact that this is the same organization that championed integrity fees until a couple of seconds ago. The NCAA recently adopted arguments more in line with the NFL’s position in testimony to Indiana lawmakers about its desires for sports betting.
So, the NCAA’s main focus is shifting towards a piece of the action for data services. The NCAA has a partnership with Genius Sports, a data company, and would likely benefit if lawmakers would designate Genius as the mandated provider for sports betting.
Of course, it’s not all roses for the NCAA. Out of that billion in revenue, the organization will have to pay $209 million in a settlement with former athletes.
The athletes brought suit because their NCAA scholarships were failing to cover their cost of attendance. It is likely that NCAA officials felt rather unappreciated that these athletes weren’t grateful for mandated poverty.