NCAA Boss Wants Sports Betting Out of College Sports

NCAA President Charlie Baker has been a vocal critic of sports betting in college athletics, particularly prop bets that focus on individual player performance. Baker argues that the legalization of sports betting across the US threatens the integrity of college sports and the well-being of student-athletes

NCAA President Charlie Baker in a press conference. (Source: AP News)

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Prop bets, short for proposition bets, allow gamblers to wager on specific events within a game, such as the number of points a particular player scores, the total number of turnovers in a game, or even whether a certain player will get ejected.

"Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity and competition and leading to student athletes and professional athletes getting harassed. The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats and many are responding by banning college prop bets."

Charlie BakerNCAA President

Baker believes this type of betting introduces pressure on student-athletes to manipulate their performance in ways that benefit gamblers, not necessarily the team or the spirit of fair competition. Additionally, he's concerned about the potential for harassment directed at athletes who might not perform according to betting expectations.

More States Join the Anti-Prop Club

The NCAA has seen some success in its efforts to curb prop betting. Ten states – Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana (effective August 1st, 2024), Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont – have all enacted bans on prop bets involving college athletes. These bans vary slightly in scope, but all aim to eliminate the opportunity for wagers based on individual player performance. This growing list of states demonstrates a willingness to address the concerns raised by the NCAA and prioritize the integrity of college athletics.

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However, the issue remains complex. Three states – Connecticut, Illinois, and Iowa – have taken a more nuanced approach. They allow prop bets on college athletics, but specifically prohibit wagers on games involving in-state teams. At the same time, New Jersey is still debating whether to ban college sports prop bets. That leaves Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Washington, DC, and Wyoming as the only legal sports betting states that still offer college props.

Rise in Athlete Gambling Spurs Bans

The concerns surrounding sports betting in college athletics go beyond theoretical risks. In 2021, student-athletes at the University of Iowa and Iowa State were flagged for potentially participating in illegal sports betting. While the investigation ultimately did not find conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, it highlighted the vulnerability of student-athletes to this type of pressure.

The battle over sports betting in college athletics is far from over. The NCAA is likely to continue pushing for a nationwide ban on prop bets, while states weigh the economic benefits against the potential risks to the integrity of the games and the well-being of student-athletes. The coming months and years will see how this ongoing debate unfolds and what regulations are put in place to ensure a fair and safe environment for college sports.


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