NCAA changes its tune on sports gambling — to an extent

Dr. Saturday

In light of this week’s Supreme Court decision opening the door for state-sanctioned sports gambling, the NCAA has changed its tune on the subject — to an extent.

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And it means NCAA championship events could be coming to Las Vegas in the future.

The NCAA announced Thursday that it “supports a federal model addressing legalized gambling and has suspended its championship host policy related to sports wagering.” Previously, the NCAA was adamantly against sports wagering, both legal and illegal. That stance barred any NCAA-sanctioned championship events — like the NCAA basketball tournament or College Football Playoff — from taking place in the state of Nevada.

That has now changed — on a temporary basis, at least.

From the NCAA:

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the NCAA Board of Governors suspended the Association’s championships policy related to sports wagering. The board’s decision will ensure championship location continuity by temporarily allowing NCAA championship events to occur in states that offer sports wagering.

The suspended policy prohibited any NCAA championship competition from occurring in any state that allows single-game sports wagering. The Board of Governors may consider more permanent revisions of the championship host policy regarding sports wagering during future meetings.

When the Supreme Court ruling overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the NCAA said it would adjust its “sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.” That came to fruition Thursday, with NCAA president Mark Emmert saying that “the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being” are the NCAA’s “highest priorities.”

In a release, Emmert offered a warning of some potential baggage he believes sports wagering can present.

“Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert says sports betting can “adversely impact student-athletes.” (AP Photo)
NCAA President Mark Emmert says sports betting can “adversely impact student-athletes.” (AP Photo)

Though the Supreme Court ruling allowed for states to construct their own policies, the NCAA is looking for national regulation.

“While we recognize the critical role of state governments, strong federal standards are necessary to safeguard the integrity of college sports and the athletes who play these games at all levels,” Emmert said.

Additionally, the NCAA made sure to re-establish its stance on sports wagering by those in collegiate athletics, including student-athletes. It is prohibited, of course, even in states that legalize it.

The Board of Governors’ action does not impact NCAA rules that already prohibit sports wagering by student-athletes or member schools’ athletics employees, including coaches. Violations of any sports wagering rules remain subject to NCAA penalties; however, the NCAA membership may reconsider appropriate consequences for those who legally bet on sports.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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