Everything you need to know about the NCAA’s stance on sports betting, potential penalties and more

Monday’s bombshell news that more than 40 Iowa and Iowa State student-athletes are being investigated for sports betting has led to more questions than answers.

Much of the uncertainty centers on how fresh the above-ground intersection between sports gambling and college athletics still is. While the NCAA has had betting guidelines for some time — and it’s been nearly four years since Iowa legalized sports betting in August 2019 — increased accessibility has made it a more prevalent problem than ever.

With that, here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding the situation in the state and sports betting in general.

What is the NCAA’s position on sports betting for student-athletes?

“Don’t bet on it” has long been the NCAA’s catchphrase for sports betting compliance. What the organization considers a violation is listed below.

“The NCAA is committed to protecting student-athlete welfare and the integrity of competition,” the NCAA website states. “NCAA sports betting rules do not permit student-athletes or athletics officials to bet on any NCAA-sponsored sport at any level – including college and/or professional – or to share information about the purposes of sports betting.

“If you place anything at risk (such as money, entry fee, dinner or other tangible item) at any amateur and/or professional sporting event with a chance to win something in return, you are in violation of NCAA sports betting rules.”

More ▼: Athletes in Iowa, Iowa are being investigated for possible online sports gambling

That means the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, all professional soccer leagues — along with the more obvious college sports — are off limits to NCAA student athletes. Some of the exceptions include NASCAR, UFC, and horse racing.

Even passing on information about your team as a student-athlete to someone else is considered a violation given how that information can potentially influence gamblers’ decisions.

“Student-athletes shall NOT share any information about their team or any other team,” the NCAA says. “This includes information about team disciplinary action, strategy, injuries or team morale. This information is sought after by gamblers.”

What about things like fantasy football leagues or NCAA tournament pools where money is involved?

Also an NCAA violation.

“Types of sports betting that violate NCAA rules include, but are not limited to, fantasy leagues, March Madness® brackets, Super Bowl draws, Calcutta, sports pools, online sports betting, sports betting apps, parlay and prop bets, live in-game betting and single-match sports betting.”

What is the NCAA penalty if a student athlete or athletics official is caught betting on sports?

It’s a fuzzy breakdown, but here’s what the NCAA says about the potential penalties:

“Student-athletes who violate NCAA sports betting rules will be ineligible for competition, subject to appeal to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Commission. Penalties will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on the guidelines for the division in which the student-athlete is participating. Institutional staff members found to be in violation of the NCAA’s sports betting rules will be subject to disciplinary or corrective action as set forth in the rules governing the NCAA’s violation process.”

What are the penalties for former student athletes caught betting on sports?

While there is no clear precedent for how the NCAA responds to violations, there have been some recent cases in which the NCAA has ruled.

  • The NCAA suspended Virginia Tech guard Allen Tisdale for nine games last season after he self-reported NBA gambling activity that reportedly amounted to “just over $400.” The suspension was later reduced to six games on appeal. Tisdale’s eligibility issue was announced before the start of the 2022 season. He missed the first six games.

  • In 2017, five Richmond baseball players were suspended before the start of the sports betting season. While there was no indication of point shaving or game fixing, the stops were still a bit long. Four of the players did not return until early April, missing a total of 27 games. The fifth player was not reinstated until before the 2018 season.

  • In 2003, Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel was fired after two years in the NCAA Tournament. He also lied about his actions. It’s important to note that the University of Iowa’s statement said no current or former coaches are suspected of gambling.

  • In 1995, the NCAA suspended Maryland quarterback Scott Milanovich for eight games after learning he was betting on college sporting events. Three other Terrapin football players were suspended for one game for betting on football cards for money. Maryland basketball player Matt Reido was suspended 20 games for betting on college sports.

  • Other betting scandals, including Boston College basketball in the late 1970s and Arizona State basketball in 1994, reached another level of seriousness after it was discovered that organized crime was also involved.

Is there any indication that point-fixing or game-fixing was involved among the Iowa and Iowa State student-athletes who allegedly gambled?

No, and it’s a big difference from the Alabama baseball sports betting saga that erupted last week.

“I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the Alabama and LSU situation,” Brian Ohorilko of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission told the Des Moines Register. “We have received a number of integrity reports relating to this market. This has not been the case at all during any of the markets that have been offered to these two universities.”

Of all the sports mentioned with potential gambling activity, University of Iowa baseball is currently the only season with betting options at various sportsbooks. When the Alabama situation erupted, sportsbooks immediately suspended all betting on Crimson Tide baseball. That didn’t happen in this situation. As many as five sportsbooks, including DraftKings, BetRivers, Barstool and Tipico, had betting options for all three Iowa-Ohio baseball games this past weekend.

Dargan Southard is a sports trends reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on the Des Moines Register: How the NCAA handled gambling cases similar to Iowa and Iowa State

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