One of the bigger hot button issues in college football over the past month has been the focus on what the NCAA, individual leagues and all of the FBS schools are doing to deal with the decision by the U.S Supreme Court to overturn The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and, in effect, open up sports gambling across the country.
With media days wrapped up across the country, CFTalk decided to go back and check to see just what each conference commissioner said on the subject. All the Power Five leaders were asked about gambling, injury reports or a similar subject during their remarks at the podium during their respective media day and here’s a snippet of what they all said.
Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby:
“I think we’re very much in a wait-and-see environment right now. There’s a lot of talk about integrity fees. There is a lot of talk about how it gets managed. Are we really going to end up with 50 states that all have different laws on legalized gambling? There are some states that have moved ahead but most are moving slowly, and, you know, the change in PASBA makes the gambling in college sports legal subject to state jurisdiction and I think we’re going to have to keep watching. What do we end up with if a couple of our states in the Big 12 footprint have legalized gambling and three others don’t? What do you end up with if some say you can bet on professional sports but you can’t bet on high school and college sports? It’s just taking a while to settle in and frankly I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I think that we spend time in football and basketball particularly. We have a consulting group that helps us look at when lines move abrupt and when there seems to be an unusual amount of money bet on a particular game.
“We do it mostly because we want to make sure that we protect ourselves from point shaving and from officiating issues and things like that; but, you know, the mainstream gambling environment, you go to an English Premiere League game, there’s a betting kiosk right next to the hot dog stand. It’s hard to imagine that we’re going to get there with college and universities, but there is some enabling legislation out there that would permit a very far afield outcome from what we have experienced in the past. As near as I can tell, the real losers in the whole thing are organized crime. If it’s legal everywhere, it’s hard to imagine why people would place illegal bets and risk that sort of jeopardy. We’re all keeping our ear to the ground and that’s the best I can answer the question.”
Bowlsby on injury reports:
“I’m not involved in the most recent discussions on this topic, but the FERPA and HIPAA considerations are substantial. Having said that, the ACC has been announcing injury status reports for a while. They don’t get into the specific injuries but I think they use a three-tiered questionable definitely out and I don’t know what the other one is. So it’s not something that you can’t do on your own. We haven’t chosen to do it because we want to get some answers relative to the student records and the like, but my sense is that there’s going to be a human cry for that to happen and as long as we don’t get too far into the specifics of what the injury is and what kind of medication they may be taking and what the duration is and those kinds of things, but some sort of simple system may work. We’ve talked about whether or not it gets managed by the conferences or whether it gets managed at a national level, and I think that’s unresolved at this point.”
SEC’s Greg Sankey:
“Understand that since 2011, members of the SEC staff have been in communication with and learning with those who work in legalized sports gambling. We’ve also been in contact over the last year with representatives from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the PGA offices to monitor and learn from their efforts and to stay up-to-date on their legislative conversations. Gambling activity around sports is not new, and that includes gambling activity around collegiate sports. What is new is the expansion of legalized sports gambling and the increased cultural acceptance of legalized sports gambling.
“For us, the integrity of our games is of the utmost importance. While it may be preferred to have no expansion of gambling activity, what is needed now is for our state and federal legislative leaders to enact policies that properly support the integrity of our games and provide the necessary protections for our students and our student-athletes.”
Sankey on injury reports:
“In Destin, we briefly discussed the concept of injury reporting with our football coaches and athletics directors. It’s clear that the nature of any so-called injury report around college sports will have very different dynamics than are present at the professional level. FERPA and HIPAA requirements, academic suspensions, other team or athletics’ department imposed suspensions and NCAA eligibility issues make something more like an availability report relevant for discussion. I do not believe this has to happen before the 2018 season, either on the part of this conference or the national level.
“I expect, however, the change in sports gambling could be and will be likely the impetus for the creation of such reports in our future. Identifying the proper approach should be the priority, not haste. And that will result from collaboration among the American Football Coach’s Association and its representatives, the conference, the NCAA national office, learning from the professional leagues and with proper guidance from legal resources.”
ACC’s John Swofford:
“I may be one of the most naive people in the world about gambling, quite honestly. I can’t even tell you the lingo that goes with it, quite frankly. But I know it can be incredibly problematic for the integrity of our games. I don’t like the optics of gambling in college sports, but at the same time, I mean, it’s obviously going on illegally and has been for years, and there are people who are constantly trying to get information about programs and individual players, et cetera, so they can bet the most effective way they think they can. I don’t know what legalizing it — I don’t know how much it changes everything, and I’m not sure anybody does. We’ve talked about this at our commissioners’ meetings a couple of weeks ago, and it’s kind of a, well, what if and what if, and is this going to change or not. I think we’re going to have to see how it plays out some.”
Swofford on injury reports:
“You may remember, we have had not a rule but a gentlemen’s agreement among our coaches to share publicly injury information. We were the only conference that was doing that, and ironically, we decided not to do it this year, so we won’t be doing it this year.
“So we’ll have to see how it plays out, but my guess is we will have a national — I won’t even call it an injury report because I think that we need to include other situations that would be in sync, be consistent across the country. I think that’s critically important, and would include not only injuries but if there’s disciplinary action where a player is suspended for a game or for whatever reason, that would need to be a part of it, as well. And I think that reduces to some degree people you don’t really want coming around players and managers and doctors and anybody associated with the program, coaches, trying to get information in another kind of way, in an underhanded kind of way. My general feeling, and I sense that our coaches’ general feeling is the same, that that’s probably something that needs to happen on a national basis. I don’t think it’ll happen for this season. I suspect it’ll be for next season, but I’ll be surprised if that’s not in place.”
Big Ten’s Jim Delany:
“We’ve had a lot of discussion about the changes in gambling that will obviously occur in the coming years. Couple things. First thing I would say is I think we’ve got great students playing football. Trust them. They’re young. We need to continue to educate them about the challenges associated with gambling and the importance of the integrity of the game. But I don’t think that they are more vulnerable today than they were before the Sullivan case. That’s the first thing I’d say. The second thing is I think we’ve got to double down on the educational element. I think we’ve done that over the years and we continue to do that.
“I think that we would prefer a federal framework that either omits college sports from gambling at the state level. And if that’s not possible, that there be some standardization of a framework so that college sports, high school sports, Olympic sports, those categories of sports receive some additional protection.”
Delany on injury reports:
“On the issue of player availability, I don’t call it an injury report as much as I think about it as player availability. Whether that comes out of an injury or whether it comes out of eligibility or comes out of some transgression of one kind or another, I think we need to do that. I think we need to do that nationally. And I think the reason we need to do that is probably with the exception of the home field, the availability of personnel is critical to people who are interested in gambling legally or illegally. And therefore, when players are unavailable, we should know that, if they’re probably or likely, I don’t have the model code, but I do think it’s something that we should do and probably should have done it before, but certainly should do it now.”
Pac-12’s Larry Scott:
“We’ve got concerns going forward about kind of a state-by-state approach, and the proliferation of it. But we come at it from a perspective of having a lot of experience in this space. Sports betting has been legal in Las Vegas for some time. Kind of in our footprint. As was mentioned earlier, we have events there. So we’ve had deep relationships for some time with consultants and other entities in Las Vegas that had a very serious interest and commitment to protecting the integrity of sports.
“Our concern going forward is really about the types of regulations, infrastructure, and commitment to integrity that other states might have, as states might adopt this, whether we can have the kinds of relationships with entities to know if there’s some unusual action on a game or some strange movement and timing around the game or reason to be concerned to conduct investigation, which we do from time to time. That’s why we are supportive of the NCAA’s efforts with the NFL and others to advocate for national legislation restrictions and standards around this area. Because my first and foremost concern is protecting our student-athletes, those around our programs, and the integrity of the competition.”
Scott on injury reports:
“Yeah, we’ve had some initial discussion. I’ve had discussion with Jim and with other conference commissioners. We’ve started some conversation internally within our own conference. It’s a complex issue, and one we’re going to have to spend more time thinking about and studying. But we don’t default to injury reporting like the NFL does it as making sense, necessarily, for college sports. There are some fundamental differences. These are students living amongst other students. They’re not living in a cocooned bubble the way professional athletes might. There are certain federal laws regarding privacy related to health issues, not just physical health issues, but the mental health issues that we just talked about.”