Athletes from Iowa and Iowa State Face Tough NCAA Consequences for Online Wagering
More than 40 athletes from Iowa and Iowa State are facing possible discipline from both law enforcement and the NCAA for impermissible online wagering. The legal penalties for betting on sporting events in the state of Iowa for individuals under the age of 21 is a fine of $645, while the NCAA could impose far harsher consequences, including suspension for most of a season.
This comes as more than half of US states have legalized gambling on sporting events since a Supreme Court decision in 2014. Meanwhile, NCAA rules prohibiting it remain strict, and college sports leaders are cautious about dialing them back. Troy Dannen, the athletic director of Tulane, expressed that NCAA bylaws should always be open to modernizing in order to reflect societal norms, yet made it clear that it doesn‘t make it acceptable if you are a student–athlete.
The Iowa and Iowa State investigations were launched after a suspicious wager placed in Ohio on one of Alabama‘s baseball team‘s games led to the firing of the coach. No athletes were implicated in that case, though some Hawkeyes baseball players have already been sidelined from competition as a result of the Iowa investigation. The NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and staff from betting on sports in which the NCAA conducts a championship. College athletes are allowed to bet on horse racing where it is legal and gamble in casinos, though NCAA rules against legal wagering are stricter than most professional leagues.
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips stated that it would be a major mistake to change NCAA rules regarding gambling if it negatively impacts the integrity of games. Ohio athletic director Julie Cromer concluded that it‘s different to be a competitor than to be a consumer of sports.
The most high–profile case involving an athlete being punished for otherwise legal gambling came last year at Virginia Tech, where a football player was suspended for six games for betting on NBA games. Iowa State said football players, wrestlers and track and field athletes were among the 15 identified in the state’s probe, while Iowa had received information about 26 athletes from various sports.
As college sports and the NCAA look to reform its outdated amateurism model and deregulate, it appears that allowing college athletes to legally wager does not fall under the umbrella of athlete benefits. Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez concluded that there is no upside to allowing sports wagering, and instead recommends continuing to have very strict and punitive NCAA bylaws.