The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament (with this week’s Sweet 16 play) 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 Secondary Infractions Cases Involving Sports Wagering
Today’s post will review examples of recent NCAA secondary enforcement cases involving the violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.3, which states:
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
Bylaw 10.3 was violated in the following secondary cases:
Secondary Case Number: 43433 (May 13, 2010)
Administrative Facts: In the spring of 2009, the assistant director of athletics communications (AD) entered into a March Madness office pool. Specifically, the AD wagered $1 to enter the pool, which was estimated to yield a prize of approximately $50. The AD had participated in the office pool for several years, and believed if he donated any winnings to charity, it did not violate NCAA legislation.
Institutional Action: The AD withdrew from the office pool and had money returned; Letter of admonishment issued to AD; Compliance office reviewed appropriate legislation and current NCAA “Don’t Bet On It’ materials, then held a rules education seminar with department of athletics communications and department of marketing to review sports wagering legislation.
Secondary Case Number: 45235 (November 9, 2010)
Administrative Facts: During the 2010 fall semester, a student-athlete counselor took part in a betting pool during week four of the 2010 NFL season. Specifically, the counselor completed a betting form “for fun.” However, he did not pay the $2.00 entry fee and did not officially submit the form.
Institutional Action: Rules education with involved student-athlete counselor and a rules reminder sent to entire athletic department. Letter of admonishment issued to involved student-athlete counselor with understanding that future violations of this nature will result in penalties more severe.
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.