NCAA Survey Says College Athletes Harassed by Bettors

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The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) recently unveiled the results of its survey targeting senior campus compliance administrators.

The survey offers a deep dive into college administrators experiences with sports betting, from perceived popularity of gambling among students to rates of problem gambling and harassment from bettors.

The report highlighted a significant uptick in sports wagering problems, especially within schools that have teams in the top divisions of U.S. college sports – so-called “autonomous schools.”

A concerning 27% of these institutions reported encountering sports betting issues among their athletes or staff in the past year.

This marks a substantial increase from the 3% reported back in 2019. Additionally, about 25% of the respondents were aware of student athletes on their campuses who faced harassment, either online or in-person, from individuals with gambling interests.

However, when it came to Division II and Division III schools, the scenario was somewhat different. Both these divisions reported only 3% facing sports wagering problems, and there were no instances of gambling-related harassment.

More Work to Do on Education

The survey saw 546 compliance administrators participate, and it garnered usable data from 500 of them.

It comes at a pivotal moment in the relationship between U.S. college sports and sports betting operators. Multiple student athletes and coaches from various sports have been suspended for betting violations in 2023, including Hunter Dekkers, the starting quarterback for the Division I Iowa State Cyclones.

Also, back in May, former Alabama Crimson Tide baseball coach Brad Bohannon was fired after an investigation into his betting activities.

Some key findings from this new NCAA report include that more than 95% of Division I schools, and a majority of Division II and III schools, are actively educating their athletes, coaches, and athletics administrators about sports wagering.

However, the mode of delivering this education has seen a shift. There’s been a rise, especially in autonomous schools and Division I, in in-person education by guests or outside experts.

For example, former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose, who was the center of an infamous betting scandal in the 1980s, recently spoke to Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team at the behest of six-time title-winning coach Nick Saban.

On the flip side, traditional methods like fact sheets, online modules/courses, and video education have seen a decline.

“The NCAA will use this staff survey data, as well as data from our prior sports betting activities survey of college-age respondents, to make the best tools available to help schools educate student-athletes on how and why to avoid sports betting,” said NCAA president Charlie Baker.

“Clearly, there is more work to do. But this survey will be a big help with all our sports betting efforts.”

Timely Survey

The survey also touched upon other timely matters that have been much-mentioned recently in the sports betting world.

For instance, when asked about the use of sports wagering integrity services to monitor games or matches, 34% of autonomous school respondents affirmed their use. In contrast, the numbers dwindled for Division I (13%), Division II (1%), and Division III (0%).

The topic of harassment from bettors has also been in the headlines over the past month. A sports bettor in the crowd tried to put off pro golfer Max Homa as he took a putt on the 17th hole of the PGA’s BMW Championship event in Illinois. It then turned out the heckler had wagered just $3 on a live bet before the shot.

This new implication that 25% of top-level student athletes have been similarly harassed by bettors in the past year is not a good look for the integrity of U.S. sports, as they see increasingly wider integration with sports betting operators.

Just recently, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear placed the state’s first legal sports bet, and he chose to wager a triple over-under parlay on the upcoming NCAA football season.

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