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NCAA Considers Allowing Student Athletes, Athletic Staff to Bet on Sports

March Madness.

Mar 16, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; March Madness banner is seen before the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

  • The NCAA is currently undergoing discussions with athletic division leaders to review its sports betting policies for students athletes and athletic staff
  • Mark Hicks, managing director of enforcement for the NCAA, said at SBC Summit North America that its sports betting policies may be “liberalized”
  • A discussion will take place this year to determine if “student athletes and athletic staff be allowed to bet on professional sports, college sports”

The NCAA will be engaging in discussions with its three division leaders later this year to potentially change its policy on sports betting for student athletes and team staff.

Mark Hicks, managing director of enforcement for the NCAA, said at the recent SBC Summit North America that the NCAA is currently engaging in a discussion with its three division leaders to evaluate if a uniform sports betting policy is necessary across all divisions and if the policy should be “liberalized.”

Sometime this year the NCAA will host a discussion with the division leaders that will touch on the possibility of allowing student athletes and team staff to bet on college and professional sports.

NCAA Always Evaluating Policies

Hicks made the comment on May 8 during the SBC Summit North America session, “The college controversy continues: Where’s the final destination for university sports?” It came after session moderator Paul Buck, CEO of EPIC Global Solutions, asked if the NCAA would adjust its stance on legal gambling after recent issues have come into play with athletes betting on their own teams or betting on themselves.

Hicks noted the NCAA is currently discussing its sports betting policy to determine “whether or not our rule is in the right place.” The first part of the discussion is an evaluation of the sports betting policy and if it should be uniform across all three collegiate athletic divisions.

The second part of the discussion, which Hicks said will take place later this year, is a discussion evaluating the sports betting policy for student athletes and team staff members.

“And the second part of this year will be a discussion about, should it be liberalized? Should student athletes and athletic staff be allowed to bet on professional sports, college sports…whatever it is that conversation will take place the rest of this year and we’ll see where it goes,” Hicks said.

Student athletes currently face stiff penalties from the NCAA if found betting on college or professional sports, which could lead to permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in the most harshest of cases. Other penalties are determined by the amount bet on professional sports and what type of bet, or on what team, is made on college sports.

No further details were shared about what the discussion would entail or what would be allowed if student athletes or athletic staff were allowed to bet on sports.

An NCAA spokesperson told Sports Betting Dime that it evaluates all of its policies on an ongoing basis, but provided no other information and declined an interview request with Hicks.

“The NCAA engages in discussions with all three divisions to review rules and policies on an ongoing basis. As the sports betting environment evolves and additional data is gathered, the Association will continue to seek feedback from members to assess any necessary rule changes or modifications,” the spokesperson said.

NCAA Modernized Sports Betting Guidelines Last Year

The NCAA modernized its sports betting policies just last year in June 2023.  Reinstatement guidelines for student-athletes found participating in sports betting (but not on their own school) were made more lenient, as the previous guidelines recommended student-athletes lose one full season of collegiate eligibility if they were found participating in any form of sports betting.

The previous guidelines were established before widespread legalization of sports betting in 2018.

Hicks touched on these revisions at SBC Summit North America.

“There’s been a revision of our student athlete eligibility rules related to gambling. There has been some movement there. What had been attempted was to separate more technical violations with those that may rub against an integrity concern, such as betting on your own school or betting on your own team, where the penalties will be much more significant. That has happened, and my guess is that conversation will continue as things happen in the NCAA,” he said.

A committee typically oversees these modifications, Hicks said, and the topic will continue to evolve over time. The NCAA has made a strong push this year for states to prohibit college player prop bets as well.

The modified guidelines still provide harsh penalties for student athletes who engage in activities to influence the outcomes of their own games, bet on their own team, bet on themselves, bet on other sports at their own school, or “knowingly provide information to individuals involved in sports betting activities.” Those found doing so potentially face permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in all sports.

Additionally, if a student-athlete wagers on their own sport at another school, education on sports wagering rules and prevention will be required and a loss of 50% of one season of eligibility will be considered as a condition of reinstatement.

However, for other sports betting incidents, such as a student-athletes placing wagers on a professional sports team, other factors will be taken into consideration before reinstatement is examined.

The betting dollar value and reinstatement terms are as follows:

  • $200 or less: Sports wagering rules and prevention education.
  • $201 to $500: Loss of 10% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.
  • $501 to $800: Loss of 20% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.
  • Greater than $800: Loss of 30% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.

For anything that greatly exceeds $800, NCAA reinstatement staff will consider whether additional loss of eligibility, including permanent ineligibility, is warranted.

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