An assistant coach for a Division I football program tweeted out a link to a site that promotes offshore sportsbooks. And that coach still appears to have an active association with the site.
And somehow that appears not to be a violation of NCAA rules. Given the NCAA’s utter disdain for all forms of sports betting — both regulated and unregulated — it’s a difficult to square how this would be allowed by the NCAA.
Coach + sports betting site = ?
According to AZCentral, new Arizona State linebackers coach Antonio Pierce tweeted out a link to a free contest at a site called Sports Betting Dime. That is a site that promotes a variety of offshore sports betting sites that operate in the US in violation of the federal sports wagering ban around the country.
You can see the actual tweet in this Yahoo story.
According to AZCentral, the school said Pierce did nothing wrong under NCAA rules.
ASU Athletics issued a statement to azcentral sports: “While we have confirmed that this does not constitute an NCAA violation, we also note that Antonio will no longer be engaged in this type of arrangement as an NCAA institution football coach going forward.”
That statement certainly makes it sound like Arizona State checked with the NCAA on whether it was a problem. The contest that Pierce was promoting was free, hence why it might be OK under NCAA rules. It’s also not a site that directly takes wagers; it’s just a resource for learning more about and signing up at those sites, another possible reason Pierce is not violating any rules. As of Friday afternoon, Pierce’s picture still appeared on the site promoting this contest:
Whether Pierece’s involvement with the site is fine by the NCAA or not, the site is clearly trying to attract people to visit and wager at offshore sportsbooks. This is not just a free contest that has no ulterior motive. (And while not a certainly, it seems likely Pierce is being compensated for the use of his image and name. The idea he’s just doing this for a sports betting site out of the goodness of his heart seems unlikely.)
The NCAA on sports betting
Whether what Pierce did was technically fine is pretty much beside the point. The NCAA has taken a hard line against sports betting of all forms — both unregulated and legal/regulated. It’s shown it is no proponent of the latter time after time:
- It does not hold championship events in Nevada because of the presence of legal sports betting. (Conference basketball championships and bowl games are not put on by the NCAA and thus do take place in the state.)
- It has more or less blackballed New Jersey from hosting events because of its ongoing attempts to legalize sports wagering.
- It forced Oregon to shut down its sports betting lottery product in order to host NCAA championship events.
- It’s basically stopped any kind of daily fantasy sports on college events in states that have passed fantasy sports laws.
Given that the NCAA is adamantly opposed to sports wagering that is entirely legal, it’s difficult to believe that the organization’s rules don’t capture this kind of behavior when it comes to sportsbooks operating entirely illegally.
The NCAA should get it together, if it doesn’t already
It’s important to note that the NCAA has not formally weighed in; all we have so far is the assurance of Arizona State that Pierce was not in violation of anything (seemingly with a nod from the NCAA). Arizona State’s football program recently came under the purview of former NFL coach Herm Edwards.
But let’s take this further. Imagine, for an instant, that a player in one of the upcoming College Football Playoff semifinals tweeted out a link to the same sports betting site that Pierce did. Would that be OK, as well? Are players basically allowed to promote offshore sports betting sites, as long as the site itself isn’t conducting sports wagering (and if the player isn’t getting any money from it)? That’s a ridiculous stance if true.
Some Richmond baseball players were suspended earlier this year for something related to sports betting, although it did not come to light what they did exactly.
Should we be shocked that the NCAA is a mess on handling of sports betting, given some of the problems it’s had recently, including the FBI corruption case involving college coaches? It shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.
But the NCAA, if it’s going to remain opposed to sports betting entirely, should be even tougher on things related to offshore books. Unless it wants to appear hypocritical on yet another issue.