Does the NCAA value new sports betting rules or student athlete lives?
For several years it has been tradition in newspapers (and subsequently online) for the NFL to list injury reports. Specific rules have been set-up with grades ranging from “possible to probable” with “out” mandatory by 1:00 PM ET on Friday or 48 hours before each game.
Curiously for most, but certainly not bettors these notices have always been placed in sections next-to or under NFL game lines. Although they have forever backed-off the issue, the NFL has never admitted injury notifications have ever had anything to do or connected to gambling. To believe this would be like waiting for Santa Claus, the tooth fairy or predicting men head to single bars to only dance on Saturday nights.
The issue has become much more relevant now with the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) on May 14th. Along with many other issues, both the NFL and now the NCAA has become deeply affected in the wake.
In a sense, the NFL is now off the hook in never having to admit they reported injuries adhering to the “illegal” gambling that has fully bolstered and supported their sport since its inception. But now the NCAA has begun a debate to reporting injuries attaching to the key word INTEGRITY, which has become a constitutional-like verbiage when talking about the game interspersed with new U.S. legalized sports gambling.
NCAA leaders are analyzing whether it’s possible to have more medical transparency to prevent collusion and be more consistent among hundreds of teams balancing the rules of various universities, conferences and state and federal laws. Right now, no formal plans have been proposed as legal experts and compliance officers analyze an issue that’s more complicated for college football than the NFL.
The basic reason is because privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protect players against the release of personal information without the consent of players or their parents if the player is under 18. HIPAA protects medical records.
Players consent to NFL injury reports as a condition of employment. Three practice participation reports are required every game week, along with game status reports and in-game updates. That is a separate debate as the question of whether college players should be paid some sort of stipend may come out of this complex issue as well.
Bu overall who are we really kidding here? Like the NFL putting an arrogant tongue into its cheek for decades about the key reason for injury reports, perhaps litigation and potential suspicion for inside cheating could cause the NCAA another major headache. An organization already overflowing with enough outside tragedies and scandals.
Saturday Night Fever
A perfect example of the new concern could occur on the first NCAA Saturday Night Football Game of the Week. Say Notre Dame is playing Wisconsin at home on ABC with a big audience watching and a new nation eager to wager with both fists. Wisconsin is a solid -4 favorite in new U.S. wagering states and at all preferred offshore wagering sites. Unknowingly, bettors are initially shocked to find out that Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly has pulled their starting QB at game time due to an unreported injury or for a growing unreported disciplinary reason.
Suspicion is all over the map, leading to investigation and likely unreasonable concern. Something that would have been unnecessary in the past. Likely, news of a QB change would have quickly spread on ESPN all weekend and other media sources. But in this case not reported, LEGALLY and officially documented as the NFL does in their official injury reports. In this “me-too” society we now find ourselves, a concern for many. Especially for casinos, sports leagues and other jurisdictions that do not seek additional litigation and lawsuits.
The ultimate debate is wondering where the priority should be at right now in disclosing information required by NCAA head coaches. Both in college football and basketball.
Until May 14th, some clever coaches used the lack of injury reports as a masterful tool to gain a competitive edge on the competition. Ironically, now without guidelines it might work against them as their reputation puts them in the spotlight as much as the weekly NCAA rankings. Washington State’s Mike Leach has a history of dodging questions about player’s injuries. New coach at UCLA, Chip Kelly rarely addressed injury inquiries at Oregon State. Same for legendary Nick Saban at Alabama. You would think they would be first in line for wanting immediate change to get this issue off their backs with enough responsibilities.
Flash forward to today’s front-page NCAA headlines, the question zooms to whether disclosing injury reports should be put on the far back burner. Here’s why:
1. Why aren’t NCAA head coaches required to officially report they or their assistant coaches beat their wives or significant others? Although they directly don’t affect the wagering line, some could argue they indirectly do. As imagine Ohio State now losing very successful head coach Urban Meyer for a four-game suspension or possible career-ending stint. Something that may happen for games but not a career if Meyer is found guilty for withholding information leading to the dismissal of his assistant staffer Zach Smith. Smith is accused of domestic abuse and strong evidence has surfaced that Meyer was aware of these incidents as far back as two years ago.
Of course, it pathetically also makes the NCAA look bad for what they find more urgent toward the bottom financial line. Talk has surfaced the Ohio State athletic director may take the fall and be dismissed as compensation. That way the Buckeyes don’t lose their Hall of Fame coach and NCAA championship hopes.
2. Why aren’t NCAA head coaches required to report they beat and abuse specific players? They aren’t reported in the newspaper or online. Again, although they don’t directly affect the wagering line, they subsequently do. This week’s death of Maryland Terrapins talented offensive lineman Jordan McNair will also lead to the likely termination of head coach D.J. Durkin. The strength and conditioning coach immediately resigned. McNair died of heat stroke during a practice without getting proper medical attention. Also, several accounts of verbal abuse by coach Durkin on him and other Maryland players will add to a long investigation.
It should be noted the story of Penn State head coach immortal Joe Paterno also comes to mind here. His passing never fully proved whether Paterno knew of long standing Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky’s abusive, illegal past. But the point here is these issues are far more crucial toward getting standards and laws passed for NCAA disclosure.
A Missing Line
Here’s hoping we don’t see a posting for a wagering line in either the new betting states or the preferred offshore wagering sites for which will come first. New rules for mandatory NCAA injury line info or rules for coaches reporting spouses getting beaten. Or maybe players getting physically and verbally abused. The sure bet is a problematic scandal due to a coach winning a ton of money with inside information. And sadly, will make bigger & longer lasting headlines than spousal abuse or a player dying.
Yes, we all will get angry finding out we lost a bet due to someone having inside information. Also, possible we may benefit from key injury info being purposely withheld. But bad luck usually lasts until the next game or future bet. I think we’re all on the same side here that in comparison these other priorities go to the top of the page.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.