NCAA Official To Sportsbooks: Don’t Take Prop Bets On Our Athletes’ Performances

Written By Derek Helling on November 13, 2020
college football prop bets betting legal

NCAA pundits continue to express the opinion that legal wagering on the sporting events their members take part in is problematic. The latest iteration came during a sports betting industry summit, and the subject of college sports prop bets came up.

The NCAA executive speaking on the panel expressed her negative view of the proliferation of such markets. She also expressed the desire for federal regulation of wagering on college sports.

The latest comments from the NCAA on college sports prop bets

Naima Stevenson-Starks, the NCAA’s vice president for hearing (think a court case, not listening with your ears) operations, spoke as part of the virtual Sports Betting USA & Investor Summit Thursday. Stevenson-Starks didn’t mince words when it came to the organization’s opinion on prop bets.

“Unlike the professional leagues, we are now talking about student-athletes attending class with people who may be betting on their efforts on the field or the court,” she stated. “That’s a concern. If you can think about missing a field goal or a free throw that might make the difference in a result, that’s not the most settling thought.”

Even in states where it’s perfectly legal for licensed sportsbooks to offer wagers on individual college athletes’ performances, such markets are extremely difficult to find.

In most places, if a bettor wants to make such a wager, the gambler will have to do so on the unregulated market. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the status quo will remain without regulation steering the market that way.

Stevenson-Starks also expressed a preference for that to take place. It’s another area where the NCAA is calling upon the US Congress to act.

The NCAA wants a federal carveout for betting on college sports

While NCAA-member institutions continue to lobby for exclusions for their sports at the state level, Stevenson-Starks expressed the organization’s preference would be for Congress to overrule any state law on the matter. She’s not optimistic that will happen anytime soon, however.

“[A federal statute] would be the most desirable,” Stevenson-Starks said. “I don’t think the momentum is there for that to be resurrected, but it is something that should be on the radar. The state-by-state approach is more difficult for an institution like the NCAA.”

This is extremely similar to the NCAA’s stance on legislation regarding athletes’ publicity rights. NCAA mouthpieces have echoed the message many times that the organization would prefer a nationwide standard.

Some in the NCAA have called for a complete ban on all betting on college sports. That ask came most recently in a Congressional hearing on the subject.

While the NCAA calls for stricter regulations on sports betting, it’s been silent about members’ involvement in the industry. That continued Thursday.

Stevenson-Starks sidesteps the Colorado – PointsBet partnership

When the panel mentioned the partnership between the University of Colorado and PointsBet, Stevenson-Starks had little to say. Her reply, again, stuck to the NCAA’s script.

“One of the things that this environment has done is created this sort of opportunity,” she commented. “I’m not offering an opinion, since we don’t have any rules precluding that sort of relationship.”

She’s correct in that there are no NCAA rules against this kind of cross-promotional deal. It’s unclear whether that status quo will remain, either.

Should more institutions follow Colorado’s lead, that might force the issue with the NCAA. At that point, the market will see whether such institutions are willing to forfeit millions of dollars to maintain a hard-line anti-gambling stance.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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