As collegiate athletics has become a major part of the American sports scene, concerns over internal and external gambling influences have led to private rules and public laws that attempt to regulate such activity. College sport, similar to its professional counterpart, must constantly work to control egregious actions by those involved in sports gambling that could influence the outcome of the game. Anti-gambling rules and governmental laws are designed to curb various types of cheating, especially those linked to sports gambling in collegiate athletics.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs most of the intercollegiate sports in the United States and has responded to numerous gambling scandals over the years by enacting rules (i.e., bylaws) designed to punish violators which fall under its jurisdiction. Additionally, there have been numerous state and federal laws that have been enacted to curtail gamblers influencing the outcome of collegiate sports events. If the NCAA did not address and aggressively pursue individuals or groups who surreptitiously yet effectively influence who wins or who loses a sporting event, the public-at-large would lose faith in the college sports product. Fans, alumni, and others, would not know whether the game at-hand is played on an even field, or whether it is played in favor of one team over the other. This would simply ruin the integrity of college sports.
This contribution explores the intercollegiate sports gambling landscape. Section One introduces the popularity of gambling in the United States and specifically addresses the rise in sports gambling and the role college sports play in this new phenomena. Section Two focuses on the NCAA; more specifically, its governance structure, regulatory culture, anti-sports gambling regulations and the enforcement of those regulations. Section Four provides a summary of notable college sports gambling cases and the NCAA sanctions that resulted. Finally, Sections Five and Six discuss other policies and regulations that have attempted to curtail gambling on collegiate sports, including federal and state legislation.
1. Collegiate Sports Gambling
Gambling in general, including sports gambling, is a popular form of recreation in the United States and an increasingly popular pastime for youth and college-age adults. Revenue from all forms of gambling in the United States topped $90 billion in 2006 (American Gaming Association, 2008). Because of the tremendous revenue that gambling generates, governments at all levels within the United States have relaxed laws that once outlawed such wagering. For example, in the decade between 1985 and 1995, 48 of 50 states revised laws that prohibited gambling to allow limited legalized gaming, including regulated casino-style games and state-run lotteries (Dunstan, 1997; Eadington, 1996). as of 2007, Hawaii and Utah were the only states that prohibit any form of gambling within their boarders (Prah, 2007).
Although gambling on sports (professional or amateur) remains illegal in all states but Nevada and Oregon, an estimated $80 to $380 billion is illegally bet on sporting events in the United States each year (Kindt & Asmar, 2002; Weinberg, 2003). Gambling on collegiate or amateur sports is permitted only in Nevada, where it is estimated that $2.5 billion is annually wagered on college sports, $197 million of which is attributed to bets surrounding the NCAA's Division I men's basketball tournament (Armour, 2007; Weinberg, 2003). In addition, illegal gambling on the NCAA tournament through informal office or neighborhood betting pools is estimated at $6 billion (McCarthy, 2007a). Further evidence as to the pervasiveness of collegiate sports gambling is the "Latest Line" (i.e., the latest point spread on college basketball and football contests), which is published in daily newspapers throughout the United States and on the Internet (Grady & Clement, 2005). Despite its popularity, the NCAA's position on sports gambling is quite clear: anyone involved in intercollegiate athletics is prohibited from participating in virtually all forms of sports gambling regardless of its legality (NCAA, 2004, p.5).
2. The NCAA
The Indianapolis, Indiana based NCAA is a tax-exempt, voluntary amateur athletic association composed of 1,162 members. Its membership includes four-year collegiate institutions and athletic conferences located throughout the United States (NCAA, n.d.b.). There are approximately 380,000 student-athletes who participate in the NCAA's three divisions of competition (Divisions I, II, III) (NCAA, n.d.k.). The NCAA administers 23 sports, 88 championships (41 men's, 44 women's, 3 mixed) and approximately 49,000 student-athletes compete in these championships each year (NCAA, n.d.k.). The NCAA has a multi-tiered, federated governance structure with more than 125 committees, both association-wide and division-specific (NCAA, n.d.b.). Association-wide committees are composed of representatives from member schools and conferences in each of the NCAA's three divisions (NCAA, n.d.a.). Committees are responsible for addressing a variety of issues ranging from eligibility requirements, drug-testing policies and procedures, recruiting rules and other competitive health and safety rules including a firm stance against sports gambling (also referred to as sports wagering or gaming) (Sawyer, Bodey & Judge, 2008).
Each NCAA Division also has its own governance structure with its own committees that have adopted regulatory rules known as "Bylaws," which are codified in the respective Division's annual publication known as the NCAA Manual. NCAA Division I includes the most prominent schools and conferences. Division I is separated into three sub-divisions based on football sponsorship. The Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, includes approximately 119 Division I schools that sponsor the most publicized football programs and offer the largest number of athletic scholarships (NCAA, n.d.k.). The remaining Division I schools either sponsor lesser funded football programs that compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) or do not sponsor football as an intercollegiate sport. Divisions II and III fund intercollegiate athletics programs at an even lesser amount than Division I members (NCAA, n.d.l.).
Although sponsorship of a football program is optional, all Division I schools sponsor a men's basketball program (NCAA, n.d.c., Bylaw 20.9-(e)). The NCAA's annual "March Madness" basketball tournament is one of the most celebrated and well-organized athletics events in the United States. "March Madness" has evolved into an American passion that engulfs students of all ages, student-athletes, alumni, retirees and general rank-and-file employees throughout the United States. Office parlay cards and other gambling sheets grab significant attention of millions of persons, and no other NCAA event draws as much interest, as bets placed on the outcome of the tournament bracket appear in almost every major newspaper in the United States ("NCAA's Gambling Madness," 2008).
The lucrative and speculative nature of sports competition and the need to maintain its voluntary, non-profit amateur status, require the NCAA to take a harsh stance toward influences that could unfairly taint the outcomes of its events or the integrity of its sports programs (Ban on Amateur Sports Gambling, 2001). Specifically, incidents of gambling, game-fixing (i.e., "point shaving") and sports bribery led the NCAA to adopt regulations prohibiting any form of sports wagering connected to its events or the athletes and administrators who fall under its jurisdiction (Byers, 1998). The following section traces the creation of these regulations and present-day application.
3. NCAA Sports Gambling Regulations
The NCAA first discussed the perils of sports gambling at its 1939 convention when it created its unethical conduct legislation, now known as Bylaw 10 of the Division I Manual (NCAA, 1939). Express NCAA legislation on this issue was not adopted until 1983 with subsequent modifications added in 1997, 2000 and 2006. The 1983 legislation codified a long-standing rule interpretation that gambling on intercollegiate athletic events by student-athletes, coaches, and athletics administrators, constituted unethical conduct (NCAA, 1983, Proposal No. 134). In 1996, the NCAA expanded its prohibition on sports gambling to include wagers made on professional sports (NCAA, 1996, Proposal No. 15). Then, in 2006, language was added to address the concern over Internet gambling and to clarify the scope of individuals considered to be included in the athletics' department staff (NCAA, n.d.e., Proposal No. 2006-17-A).
3.1. NCAA Manual Provisions
Below are the relevant portions of Bylaw 10 as published in the 2007-08 Division I NCAA Manual. Identical legislation exists in NCAA Divisions II and III. These provisions can be found in the latest version of the NCAA Manual which can be accessed online on the NCAA's website, at within the "Legislation & Governance" area under "Rules and Bylaws."
Provisions from NCAA Bylaw, Article 10: Ethical Conduct
10.02 Definitions and …