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Against the Odds: NCAA Won't Pursue Gambling Revenue

25 Jul, 2018

By: Michael Popke

Amid reports that Major League Baseball and the NBA are pursuing so-called integrity fees from organized sports gambling, the NCAA apparently has no interest in doing so.

At the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics’ annual convention in late June, NCAA senior vice president and chief financial officer Kathleen McNeely said that if sports gambling continues to operate under regulation on a state-by-state basis, it will be up to individual schools to decide whether they want to pursue such integrity fees, USA Today reports. The NCAA and the NFL advocate for federal regulation of sports betting.

“[The NCAA] will not be going after any gambling revenue,” she told a group of college athletics business administrators. “We know it will cost money to monitor, but [association president] Mark Emmert has been pretty firm in saying he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the NCAA to try to access that revenue. Schools will need to look at their own values and decide” what to do.

Some schools have already decided to take action. In May, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to allow legalized sports betting throughout the country, West Virginia University athletic director Shane Lyons told local media that his staff is beefing up compliance.

“My job is first and foremost is to protect the integrity of the institution of the athletic department and the other part is to protect the integrity of the institution as a whole,” Lyons told a group at Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, W.Va. “With legalized gambling coming up, I will have to hire additional compliance staff for monitoring and looking at it as well as the educational aspect of it. There is going to be cost associated with that and we’re going to have to step our game up. … It’s interesting, obviously there is already gambling occurring right now in the underground with illegal sports gaming, but it will now be more in your face. I don’t really have a position from the gambling standpoint. It is what it is, my point is to make sure that if it’s going to happen that my job is to protect the institution and the department from any issues happening.”

Indeed, as MSN.com reports, “While the addition of a new revenue stream from sports betting is no doubt one of the driving forces for schools, costs going up is another more immediate and pressing need.”

The NCAA “recognizes that the anticipated spread of legalized sports betting will require it to spend money to monitor betting patterns for indicators of potential irregularities in college games,” adds USA Today.

USA Today also reports that “NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and several Major League Baseball officials have said their leagues should get integrity fee money, and Silver has further pressed the NBA's case by raising royalty and intellectual property arguments.”

Meanwhile, an NCAA working group is striving to determine how the NCAA should proceed. The organization has assembled a group of subject-matter experts to examine the potential impact of legalized gambling with the goal of protecting game integrity, monitoring betting activity, managing sports data and expanding educational efforts.

In an interview with USA Today after her speech at NACDA, “McNeely said … among the issues to be decided is whether the association should work with an outside firm that can provide the necessary analytics data and expertise to help the NCAA monitor betting activity, or whether the association should build its own system.”

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