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As Golf Student-Athletes Fill Out Their Brackets, Are They Gambling On More Than A Tournament?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

As Golf Student-Athletes Fill Out Their Brackets, Are They Gambling on More Than a Tourmament?


Golf Student-Athletes Gambling Away Their Future


Courtesy NCAA

NORMAN, Okla. ?
Sports wagering continues to be a serious problem that threatens both the well-being of the student-athlete and the integrity of the game.  In response, the NCAA has taken action to curb the threats against student-athletes by limiting sports wagering activity and educating student-athletes, coaches and athletics department staff on the dangers of sports wagering.


While the NCAA and its members have made progress in educating student-athletes on the dangers of sports wagering, there are still areas where additional efforts are needed, including the sport of golf.


Recently, the NCAA released its second national study on sports wagering behaviors of U.S. college student-athletes, and the study produced results that have caused the collegiate golf community to take notice.


Across each division, sports wagering activities within the sport of men's golf have increased and are currently at much higher levels than those seen among any other student-athlete group.  While 12 percent of Division I men's basketball student-athletes bet on sports socially during the past year, 40 percent of Division I men's golfers have done the same and eight percent reported wagering on sports weekly.  Men's golfers also stand out as the most pervasive gamblers across almost every type of gambling behavior studied.


Once golf student-athletes choose to wager on sports they are wagering their collegiate future.  The NCAA has taken a hard stance on sports wagering by opposing all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering.  NCAA rules state that student-athletes, coaches and athletics department staff cannot place a wager on any NCAA-sanctioned sport which encompasses intercollegiate, amateur and professional level sports.  The Association and its members have determined that student-athletes who violate the sports wagering rules can receive anywhere from a one-year suspension to complete loss of eligibility. 


However, sports wagering not only jeopardizes golf student-athletes' eligibility it also puts their well-being at risk.  When golf student-athletes wager on sports, they are frequently wagering with someone connected to organized crime, such as a campus bookie.  Often times, those placing the wager or even the bookie themselves do not know that the wagers are backed by organized crime.  When student-athletes gamble with organized crime they become indebted to them.  Former organized crime members have informed the NCAA that once student-athletes placed wagers with their organization, they would threaten to expose the student-athletes' gambling problems or threaten physical harm unless the student-athlete agreed to cooperate and provide assistance or information.


Due to the culture of the game, golf student-athletes and coaches often inquire why the NCAA prohibits friendly wagers between teammates on the golf course, such as the two dollar nassau.  Although the wagers between teammates might seem innocent, experts caution that gambling with friends can lead to other dangerous situations.  While wagers may start off simply between teammates, sometimes one teammate will introduce other types of sports wagering that could be associated with an organized gambler.  The organized gambler could see the student-athlete as an opportunity to make money and decide to exploit the student-athlete.   


As the research shows no division or institution is immune to sports wagering issues.  However, the study indicates that educational efforts do work in reducing the number of student-athletes that wager on sports.  Additionally, the study demonstrates that coaches are the key to educational efforts.  According to the study, when student-athletes were asked what were the most effective ways to influence them not to wager on sports, they consistently indicated their coach would be the most effective.  In the case of male student-athletes, coaches were identified as more influential than the student-athletes' own values.


The NCAA would like to work with golf coaches and administrators to deliver the important educational message about the dangers and rules around sports wagering.  The NCAA will continue to work with campuses across the country to make sure they have the tools and processes in place to address the issue, as well as addressing the initiative on a national level.


Additional sports wagering information can be found by visiting the redesigned NCAA interactive sports wagering Web site,  The Web site provides new commentary from CBS basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, FBI agents, Las Vegas sportsbook operators and oddsmakers and members from the each of the professional sports league's investigation departments.


If you are interested in partnering with the NCAA agent, gambling and amateurism activities staff for educational efforts, contact Rachel Newman Baker at 317/917-6222.