New NCAA President Baker May Field Sports Betting Issue

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NCAA President

Just months after signing MA sports betting into law, Gov. Charlie Baker will be the next NCAA president.

The NCAA announced Baker as the next president Thursday, effective in March 2023. Baker signed Massachusetts sports betting into law in August, but did not run for re-election this year and is set to leave office in January.

“We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor University and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, said in the announcement. “Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways.

“As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”

What Baker brings as NCAA president

The NCAA held a nationwide search for the successor to Mark Emmert, a long-time opponent of sports betting. The NCAA release noted Baker’s history as a bipartisan dealmaker as significant to his hiring as the organization faces “a moment of significant transformation.”

NCAA stakeholders hope Baker can help lead a national framework with federal policymakers to help replace an “untenable patchwork of state laws,” according to the release. That comes in large part related to the name, image and likeness (NIL) rules driving an evolution in college athletics.

His hiring also comes as relationships between sportsbooks and college students face greater scrutiny across the country:

“The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge,” Baker said in the announcement. “Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to suit today’s world while preserving its essential value.”

Baker supported MA sports betting

The Massachusetts governor has a strong history of sports betting support. In 2016, he made Massachusetts the eighth state to legalize daily fantasy sports with his signature.

By 2019, the Baker administration introduced its own sports betting legislation.

“Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations,” Baker said in 2019.

MA sports betting time was now

In 2021, Baker tweeted it was “time to act” on legalizing sports betting. Although a longtime supporter of legalized MA sports betting, he wanted a prohibition on college sports betting. Legislators ultimately allowed college betting but banned wagering on in-state colleges.

“Our administration first filed legislation to legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth several years ago, and I am glad to be able to sign this bill into law today,” Baker said in August when he signed sports betting into law.

Massachusetts sports betting likely will launch in early 2023.