- Rick Chryst, Senior Vice President/Of Counsel, Dietz Sports & Entertainment (Moderator)
- Steven Burton, Chief Operating Officer, Genius Sports
- Amy Folan, Zyzelewski Family Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics, Central Michigan University
- Matt Holt, President & Founder, U.S. Integrity
- Martin Lycka, SVP US Regulatory Affairs, Entain
- Sara Slane, Founder, Slane Advisory
While U.S. professional and collegiate sports entities have utilized legalized sports wagering to replace lost income from COVID-19, market to new fans, and bolster fan engagement, historically, college sports has been the most vulnerable sports enterprise to illicit wagering activities. With March Madness in full swing, and approximately half of U.S. states having legalized sports betting, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”), in partnership with leading sports data company, Genius Sports, hosted its latest webinar to discuss the issue of integrity in college sports.
LEAD1’s panel, moderated by Rick Chryst (Senior Vice President; Dietz Sports & Entertainment), featured Steven Burton (Chief Operating Officer; Genius Sports), Amy Folan (Director of Athletics; Central Michigan University), Matt Holt (President; U.S. Integrity), Martin Lycka (SVP US Regulatory Affairs; Entain), and Sara Slane (Founder; Slane Advisory).
College sports, particularly college basketball, has been the subject of several sports betting scandals over the years — from the City College of New York (CCNY) scandal in 1950, to the NCAA men’s basketball scandal in 1961, Boston College in 1978, Tulane in 1985, Arizona State in 1994, Northwestern in 1995, Toledo in the mid 2000s, and a trio of college basketball scandals more recently at San Diego, Auburn, and UTEP.
With legalized sports betting channeling more money and attention onto college campuses, the integrity of sport may be more vulnerable even for small amounts of cash. In that light, the panel offered the following simple recommendations for college sports to mitigate potential sport integrity issues:
- To allow for investigations in real-time, relevant collegiate stakeholders including institutions, athletic teams, conferences, the NCAA, regulators, and operators must collaborate and work together;
- The enterprise should educate student-athletes, coaches, and perhaps more importantly those surrounding sports teams to deter potential bad actors from compromising those involved;
- Institutions should work closely with their in state counterparts as well as state policymakers to collaborate with local gaming interests; and
- Institutions should utilize national resources from the NCAA.
A point shaving scandal, as we have seen in the past, can create tremendous reputational damage to any institution’s brand, and in turn, affect the ability of schools to recruit and compete for years. Punishment can go well beyond NCAA enforcement, as illicit sports wagering could trigger criminal penalties. The onus is on the collegiate enterprise to work together to mitigate such possibilities.