College Sports Betting Scandals Lead To Reflection At Industry Event

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SECAUCUS, NJ — The college sports betting scandals in Alabama and Iowa have caused universities to examine how they can better prevent nefarious activity from occurring in the future. 

Mid-American Conference (MAC) Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher told LSR this month that member institutions reiterated their college sports betting policies to athletes, coaches and staffers following the scandals. 

“It’s about being more intentional, not just checking the box at the beginning of the year,” Steinbrecher said following his college panel at SBC Summit North America. 

“We’ve got the big 15-, 20-, 30-minute video you’ve got to slog through. And many of our institutions have their own additional programming. But what else are we doing, whether it’s once a month or every other week, that just reinforces and talks about a different thing?

“What kind of processes do we have set up on campus to assist kids if they run up against threats or other problems?” 

College sports betting policy explained

As per the NCAA rules on student-athletes and sports betting: 

NCAA sports wagering rules do not allow student-athletes or athletics employees (1) to bet on any sport sponsored by the NCAA at any level, including college and/or professional or (2) to share information for sports wagering purposes.

If you put something at risk (such as cash, entry fee, dinner or other tangible item) on any amateur and/or professional sporting event with a chance to win something in return, you violate NCAA sports wagering rules.

Alabama, Iowa college sports betting scandals

Alabama fired baseball coach Brian Bohannon in the midst of a sports betting probe. Multiple jurisdictions suspended betting on Crimson Tide baseball markets following Bohannon reportedly being in contact with an Ohio bettor at the time in question. 

The Iowa sports betting investigation involves 26 Iowa student-athletes and about 15 Iowa State student-athletes. No markets from either school were pulled down by state regulators. 

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission issued a statement: “The IRGC does not currently have any information that would call into question the integrity of any sports wagering contest or event involving the University of Iowa or Iowa State University.”

Integrity must be maintained

Any sports wagering scandal involving student athletes throwing games would be disastrous, Steinbrecher said. 

“If you lose a lack of faith in the integrity of the events, I think the system crumbles,” Steinbrecher said.

“And so that’s part of why the antennas start twitching. And why a number of us are investing pretty heavily to ensure that we do have integrity.”

Monitor adds hotline number

Last week, US Integrity, which aided the Alabama investigation, announced it launched an anonymous tip line. Using that line, people can safely report wrongdoing.

Texting 843-USI-TIPS “protects and enhances the integrity and purity of competition, while ensuring their anonymity and safety,” David Chadwick, founder and CEO of RealResponse, told the Associated Press.

Will public side with industry?

Steinbrecher says the recent investigations show the legal market is properly regulating the sports betting industry. 

Yet MLB counsel on sports betting and compliance Leonardo Villalobos wondered if the public had the same thoughts as the industry. 

“People in the industry might appreciate that stories like this are a sign that the regulated market is working,” Villalobos said on the panel. “I think maybe fans might not have the same appreciation. They might look at stories that happen like this and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Legal sports betting is going off the rails.’” 

Consistent betting education a must

That is why continuing education and reminders are key, according to Steinbrecher.

“I think it goes back to, let’s double-down or triple-down on doing it more, be timely, be insightful,” Steinbrecher said.

“It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes every week. But a little blast here, a little blast there. Just continuing to reinforce in a lot of different ways, and connect the dots for those involved.”