What Do The NCAA And NFL Have In Common? It Has To Do With Sports Betting
Legal Sports Report

The NCAA Has A Fantasy Sports Problem, Whether It Admits It Or Not

NCAA daily fantasy sports
The NCAA is apparently is a lot like the NFL in trying to parse its stance on gambling.

But it appears to have a real problem when it comes to its full-throated opposition to legal sports betting in New Jersey and its tacit acceptance of states that have legalized daily fantasy sports.

Why is that? The NCAA painted itself into a corner.

The NCAA, sports betting, and DFS

The collegiate sports organization has rules that attempt to prevent its athletes taking part in gambling, specifically sports betting and fantasy sports.

It takes those rules so seriously that it has blackballed New Jersey from holding pretty much any NCAA championship events. That includes March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

It stems from the ongoing New Jersey sports betting case, and the state’s desire to legalize wagering.

According to the Washington Post:

Asked for comment, an NCAA spokeswoman merely said that the organization does not allow NCAA-run events to be held in states with legalized sports gambling (which, again, New Jersey doesn’t yet have).

And here’s an earlier statement on the matter, from Vocativ:

“The current NCAA championships policy does not allow NCAA championships to be held in states with single-game sports wagering. New Jersey state law presently does not allow legalized sports wagering.”

Here’s the problem for the NCAA: DFS laws

Do you know what else the NCAA thinks is “legalized sports gambling?” Fantasy sports.

Here’s the NCAA bylaw (emphasis added):

Sports wagering includes placing, accepting or soliciting a wager (on a staff member’s or student-athlete’s own behalf or on the behalf of others) of any type with any individual or organization on any intercollegiate, amateur or professional team or contest. Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required and there is an opportunity to win a prize.

That pretty obviously covers DFS. The NCAA, after all, is the one that got DraftKings and FanDuel to stop offering DFS based on college events.

The NCAA, however, has taken no steps like it has in New Jersey in the 11 states that have legalized DFS.

Why not? That’s not at all clear, other than it’s logistically impossible for it to blackball more than 20 percent of the states.

Can the NCAA parse DFS vs. sports betting?

Even if the NCAA attempts to parse its stance on sports betting versus DFS, it has problems:

  • Let’s say we buy the “single-game sports wagering” statement given to Vocativ. Then why does the NCAA still not allow Sports Action in Oregon? That was a form of parlay betting that the NCAA pushed out of the state in exchange for allowing the NCAA tournament to be played in Portland.
  • Another possible argument: The NCAA could say that most DFS laws ban college contests. Again, that logic would have a problem because of its stance in Oregon. Sports Action never allowed parlay bets on college games.

The NCAA did not return a request from Legal Sports Report for comment on its position on DFS laws.

NCAA is hypocritical on gambling

The NCAA is treating New Jersey and Oregon one way, and states legalizing DFS another. But the NCAA being uneven on gambling matters this shouldn’t surprise us at all.

The NCAA claims that it is vehemently against sports betting — at least publicly. But it unquestionably knows that sports betting — from straight game bets, to bowl pick’em contests, to NCAA tourney pools — drives interest in its product.

The NFL leads the way in hypocrisy on gambling matters. But the NCAA isn’t far behind.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.