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College Sports, Division I, Division II, Division III, Education

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Compliance Reminders About Sports Wagering, Part I

The beginning of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament with the March 13, 2012, First Round in Dayton, Ohio, and this weekend’s Second and Third Rounds in sites across the country triggers one of the year’s biggest sports wagering periods. According to a Business Insider article, “gambling is only legal in about half the country, but the business reels in between $80 million and $90 million in bets during March Madness. However, the FBI estimates that revenue from illegal wagers totals between $6 billion and $12 billion”. Most importantly, student-athletes, athletics employees and other parties associated with athletics programs at NCAA member institutions are prohibited from engaging in sports wagering activities involving the tournament.

NCAA Sports Wagering Legislation

Today’s post will review the pertinent NCAA legislation pertaining to sports wagering activities.

Bylaw 10.02.1: Sports Wagering.

Sports wagering includes placing, accepting or soliciting a wager (on a staff member’s or student-athlete’s own behalf or on the behalf of others) of any type with any individual or organization on any intercollegiate, amateur or professional team or contest.  Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required and there is an opportunity to win a prize.  (Adopted:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

Bylaw 10.02.2: Wager.

A wager is any agreement in which an individual or entity agrees to give up an item of value (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) in exchange for the possibility of gaining another item of value.  (Adopted:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

Bylaw 10.3: Sports Wagering Activities. 

The following individuals shall not knowingly participate in sports wagering activities or provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition:  (Adopted:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

(a) Staff members of an institution’s athletics department;

(b) Nonathletics department staff members who have responsibilities within or over the athletics department (e.g., chancellor or president, faculty athletics representative, individual to whom athletics reports);

(c) Staff members of a conference office; and

(d) Student-athletes.

Bylaw 10.3.1: Scope of Application.

The prohibition against sports wagering applies to any institutional practice or any competition (intercollegiate, amateur or professional) in a sport in which the Association conducts championship competition, in bowl subdivision football and in emerging sports for women.  (Adopted:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

Bylaw Exception.

The provisions of Bylaw 10.3 are not applicable to traditional wagers between institutions (e.g., traditional rivalry) or in conjunction with particular contests (e.g., bowl games).  Items wagered must be representative of the involved institutions or the states in which they are located.  (Adopted:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

Bylaw 10.3.2: Sanctions.

The following sanctions for violations of Bylaw 10.3 shall apply:  (Adopted:  4/27/00 effective 8/1/00, Revised:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

(a) A student-athlete who engages in activities designed to influence the outcome of an intercollegiate contest or in an effort to affect win-loss margins (“point shaving”) or who participates in any sports wagering activity involving the student-athlete’s institution shall permanently lose all remaining regular-season and postseason eligibility in all sports.  (Revised:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)

(b) A student-athlete who participates in any sports wagering activity through the Internet, a bookmaker or a parlay card shall be ineligible for all regular-season and postseason competition for a minimum period of one year from the date of the institution’s determination that a violation occurred and shall be charged with the loss of a minimum of one season of eligibility.  If the student-athlete is determined to have been involved in a later violation of any portion of Bylaw 10.3, the student-athlete shall permanently lose all remaining regular-season and postseason eligibility in all sports.  (Revised:  4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)


The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends NCAA member institutions: (a) conduct rules-education sessions concerning NCAA sports wagering legislation during March; (b) consult with the NCAA agents, gambling and amateurism staff for rules-compliance strategies; and (c) review the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org) for additional compliance resources relating to sports wagering.


About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.


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