In the five short years since the US Supreme Court effectively legalized sports betting and turned regulation over to individual states, the industry has grown tremendously. Over the same period, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has undergone an overhaul of its own.
While student-athletes were previously prohibited from profiting – and even faced serious punishments for doing so – off their name, likeness and image (NIL), a 2021 ruling paved the way for college athletes to build, control and monetize their brand and endorsements while playing college sports.
Still, according to this betting apps website, some criticize what they regard as outdated rules surrounding athletes participating in gambling activities like sports betting. Of course, it would be disingenuous and a conflict of interest for an athlete to wager on their own team; but given the evolving landscape of sports betting, with many states fully legalizing the activity, an overhaul to NCAA rules is considered long overdue.
Understanding the NCAA’s Revised Decision
Just last week, the NCAA’s Division I Council Coordination Committee announced it would be modifying reinstatement conditions for student-athletes who wagered on other teams at their school. Previously, the punishment for this breach of rules resulted in a lifetime ban from NCAA sports. While it was initially believed that athletes under investigation would be reinstated immediately, the ruling requires that student-athletes receive mandatory education on wagering and also face ineligibility.
The NCAA released a statement on the ruling: “Effective immediately, reinstatement guidelines for student-athletes who wager on teams at their school — excluding their own team — will start at requiring one season of ineligibility and a loss of one year of eligibility. Student-athletes will also be required to participate in sports wagering rules and prevention education as a condition of reinstatement.”
Reduced Penalty Still Deemed Excessive
Although the ruling lessens the previous penalty of permanent ineligibility, some believe the latest ruling didn’t go far enough. At the center of a criminal investigation are two colleges: Iowa and Iowa State.
Star defensive lineman for Iowa, Noah Shannon – found to place a wager on at least one Iowa women’s basketball game – is part of more than a dozen student-athletes from the two schools under investigation for illegal sports betting. An appeal of the decision was recently denied, and now Shannon’s college career is effectively over.
The Committee’s decision has been met with harsh criticism from many. Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz opined on the ruling concerning the senior Noah Shannon. “I am heartbroken for Noah and his family that the NCAA has come to this conclusion,” the Hawkeyes coach said.
“Noah did not break any laws. He did not commit any crimes. And yet, he is being severely over-punished by a membership committee that refuses to see perspective or use common sense. I have said many times that I think it is peculiar that the state of Iowa is uniquely the focus of this investigation. Noah is being sidelined because the NCAA is ruling on an investigation that they did not instigate, using an uneven system of justice to severely punish an excellent young man. It is just wrong.”
Fighting an Outdated NCAA
Similarly, Iowa wrestling coach Terry Brands—whose son, senior Nelson Brands, is also impacted by the ruling—blasted the Committee’s decision for singling out the two schools in Iowa, calling for “logic to prevail in an unprecedented, standalone struggle.”
Brands acknowledged that no other D1 school in the US has been subject to the same kind of investigation. “The penalty for athletes who did not break any laws, did not bet on themselves, did not bet on their sport somehow is the same as for those who compromised the integrity of college athletics,” Brands said.
While some may welcome the news of the NCAA lessening the penalties on sports betting, others continue to work for an overhaul of what they consider an outdated and out-of-touch NCAA. Given how long it took the Association to rule in favor of student-athletes to receive their just compensation, the battle to recognize college athletes’ right to wager on other sports is likely to take some time.