The NCAA And Fantasy Sports Still At Odds: Five College Baseball Players Suspended For Fantasy Football

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NCAA fantasy sports

Five collegiate baseball players were suspended for NCAA violations relating to rules governing athletes’ involvement in fantasy sports, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

What happened regarding athletes and fantasy sports

Five members of the University of Richmond baseball team are serving suspensions to start the season; that much was apparent a week and a half ago. But the reason for the suspensions came to light from the Times Dispatch:

Two of the University of Richmond’s best baseball players are among five who have begun this season suspended for NCAA rules violations related to fantasy football involvement. …

The five remain suspended as Richmond waits for the NCAA to address their status. Two sources said they were involved in fantasy football, an NCAA rules violation. The players’ fantasy football activity was reported directly to the NCAA, which contacted UR, the sources said.

The university had earlier issued a statement on the matter, which it provided to LSR:

The University of Richmond athletics department has reported NCAA secondary violations impacting the eligibility of five student-athletes on the baseball team.  In full cooperation with the NCAA, the athletic department fully investigated and reported the violations, which the NCAA has recently determined were secondary in nature.

As a result of these violations, these five student-athletes will be ineligible for competition until the NCAA’s reinstatement process has been completed.

The University of Richmond is committed to complying with all NCAA rules and regulations.  Under NCAA rules, the University of Richmond is obligated to monitor and self-report violations as they occur and all student-athletes and staff handled this situation with integrity, were completely forthcoming and cooperative with the investigation.  The athletics department will not make any further comments about this matter.

The NCAA on sports betting and fantasy sports

The NCAA has been nothing if not consistent in its approach to sports betting and paid-entry fantasy sports. It wholeheartedly opposes both.

Here is one summary of the NCAA’s rules governing gambling and fantasy sports:

Gambling is considered a serious issue, thus, NCAA rules prohibit sports gambling of any kind by student-athletes, coaches, trainers, or anyone else involved in college athletics. If you gamble, you will lose your eligibility for intercollegiate competition.

• You may not place or solicit a bet of any sort on any college or professional sporting event, including but not limited to, sports “pools,” internet gambling, fantasy leagues, and gambling via “800” numbers.

• You may not give information to anyone who does place bets on college or professional sports (no information on injuries, new plays, team morale, discipline patterns, or anything else).

That rule applies not just to collegiate events in which athletes participate. It governs any sort of fantasy sport based on pro sports, as well.

And from the NCAA website:

The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.

What kind of fantasy sports led to the violation?

The answer to that question is not at all clear from the information available.

If the “fantasy sport” in question is a friendly season-long fantasy sports league with a little bit of money at stake, the NCAA policy and suspension seem pretty draconian.

It’s at least possible the violation involves daily fantasy sports like the contests at DraftKings and FanDuel. If so, the move is perhaps to be expected.

The NCAA and fantasy sports, not best friends

The NCAA has been particularly strident in pushing back against legal DFS and sports betting:

Professional sports leagues have invested in DFS or are softening their views on sports betting. But these collegiate suspensions are the latest indication that no one expects a similar change from the NCAA.