Without strong efforts to enforce state and Federal laws prohibiting illegal sports wagering, the integrity of college athletics may be at stake.
IT'S SATURDAY AFTERNOON, and you are settled in a comfortable chair watching your favorite college basketball team play a conference foe. One of your team's better players has missed a few shots early in the second half and the team is down by 10. They eventually lose by 16. You are disappointed, but don't think much more about it.
However, what if that player purposely had held back on a few shots, was a half-step slow on defense that day, and later that evening received an envelope with a few thousand dollars in it because his team, an underdog in the game, had lost by more than the posted betting spread? That scenario played out at Northwestern University a few years ago, and two former players and several others involved in the point-shaving scheme are paying the price. They were indicted, met with more law enforcement officials than they ever dreamed possible, and were sentenced to jail terms. Their lives are nothing like the promise their college careers once held, all because of gambling--more specifically, illegal sports wagering that led to point shaving.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), formed in 1906, is a nonprofit, voluntary association of more than 1,200 colleges, universities, conferences, and organizations charged with the administration of intercollegiate athletics. The membership is divided into three legislative and competitive divisions, and the NCAA annually sponsors 81 national championships in 22 sports.
In September, 1996, the NCAA assigned a staff member to look into gambling and agent issues on a full-time basis. The NCAA believes there is a very high incidence of illegal sports wagering among college students. It is safe to say that student bookies are present at every college and university, and there is no dispute that the impact of sports gambling is being felt on campuses across the country.
An NCAA-sponsored study completed by the University of Cincinnati uncovered alarming results. Of 2,000 male student-athletes in Division I basketball and football programs surveyed about NCAA rules violations, 25% reported that they gambled on college sports events other than their own while in college. Four percent admitted that they wagered on games in which they had played, and three of the athletes said they changed the outcome of the game in which they participated.
In a separate 1998 study involving approximately 1,000 students at universities in the …