Friday, March 9, 2012

Gambling and NCAA Sports

A player for Auburn University's basketball team is currently being investigated for the possibility of point shaving. If true, this is not the first time it has happened, with one of the most famous involving Boston College, but more recently Arizona State and Northwestern have also had point shaving scandals. With all the money that is on the line, what amazes me is that these scandals don't happen, or at least are not caught, more often.

We are now just a week away from the beginning of March Madness. According to a report done by the FBI for the NCAA people wager $2.5 billion on March Madness alone. Of that, only $80-$90 million is done legally in Vegas. That means that the vast majority is either through pools or with illegal bookmakers. In addition, the NCAA itself makes an enormous amount of money from the tournament. They are currently in the middle of a contract with CBS and Turner which pays them $700 million a year. Remember these numbers are just for basketball. On top of that, according to a survey conducted by the NCAA, 37% of college athletes self-reported that they had gambled on sports in the past year.

When these athletes look around and see the huge amounts of money that are being made off of them, again, it is surprising to me that more athletes are not saying that they want to get a piece of the pie for themselves. Someone once speculated that there is going to come a time in which the players who make the final four are going to join together collectively and refuse to play until they get a piece of the take. Their coaches are making millions, their schools are making millions, the television stations are making millions and the NCAA is making millions, so where is there portion?

The NCAA has been discussing giving athletes a stipend in addition to the other things they receive. This has been supported by both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and I think it's only a matter of time before it happens. Most athletes who get caught in these scandals are not getting much in return, just think of the Ohio State football players trading autographs for tattoos, so maybe this will make a difference.

There are literally billions of dollars floating around and surrounding college athletics, and as the number of scandals continues to increase we can easily say this is not going anywhere. In addition, the NCAA has proven itself incapable of actually trying to set anything down to end it, nor act appropriately when they find improprieties. Rarely are coaches or universities truly punished for their indiscretions other than punishments that amount to little more than a slap on the wrist (the exception is SMU).

The athletes themselves, however, are punished and often severely for their actions. For many, many reasons, one of the biggest being that their scholarships are only good for one year at a time, athletes hold little to no power. So again, at the end of the day, I often find myself amazed not that these scandals occur but that they don't happen more often. Something is going to have to change, the question then is how do we solve the problem?

No comments:

Post a Comment