The NCAA Board of Governors announced Wednesday that it has decided against implementing standardized injury reports for college football games this season. With legalized sports betting growing across the United States, the NCAA explored the possibility of requiring teams to release detailed injury reports prior to every game.
The Board also announced that it still supports rules that prohibit athletes and school administrators from betting on sports or providing pertinent information to people associated with gambling. However, the Board also came to the conclusion that requiring injury reports is just not feasible. A committee reportedly explored the possibility of requiring teams to publicly disclose whether certain players would be available to play prior to games.
Ohio State President Michael V. Drake, who is also the chairman of the Board of Governors, said,
“The ad hoc committee gathered thorough feedback from conference commissioners, athletics administrators, athletic trainers and student-athletes across all three divisions about potential player availability reporting. The membership has significant concerns about the purpose, parameters, enforcement, and effectiveness of a player availability reporting model.”
The committee was gathered to explore whether a college injury report would be viable. The National Football League has rules stipulating that each team must publicly disclose injury information throughout the week leading up to game days. The NCAA considered adding standardized injury reports due to concerns about whether legalized gambling could cause bettors to seek injury information from athletes or other team personnel. Without public injury information, bettors are largely in the dark when it comes to which players may be available to play in a given week.
However, even the “injury report” label would raise legal question marks regarding student and patient privacy.
John Holden of Legal Sports Report made the argument for the NCAA installing a mandatory injury report, specifically geared toward college football. He wrote,
“Indeed, it seems much of the opposition to the timely release of standardized injury information is driven by antiquated coaching philosophies and gamesmanship. But these strategies around concealing injuries creates a market for inside information, and threatens the integrity of both the underlying sporting event and the betting markets.”
“Whether the NCAA likes it or not, sports betting is expanding. At some point they are going to have to be proactive in getting with the times and taking steps to protect against a scandal by doing little things like releasing NCAA injury reports, or face the backlash to their already tarnished reputation that would come with an insider information scandal.”
While the NFL does require teams to disclose injuries, some coaching staffs are still insistent on remaining vague about specifics due to the perceived competitive disadvantage in doing so.
Holden has a valid point about the expansion of sports betting as well. A whopping $1.8 billion was bet on college and pro football in the state of Nevada in 2018, and that number is only going to grow. The US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to effectively allow other states to legalize and regulate sports betting will also mean more and more money will be bet on games in the months and years to come.
The aforementioned $1.8 billion bet on football in Nevada last year topped the $1.75 billion that was bet on the sport in the previous year. New Jersey, New York, Mississippi, and West Virginia are among the handful of states that have since legalized sports betting. More states are expected to do so in the near future.
Some conferences are still wary of the industry’s growth. For example, the ACC voted in March in support of an exemption that would make it illegal to bet on college sports. The SEC, meanwhile, has previously shown reluctance regarding the submission of injury reports.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said last month,
“I’m not one who thinks that has to happen rapidly. I also believe it has to resolve issues for our teams, our athletic programs, and our participants as opposed to simply serve gambling interests. I understand the availability report can help people make decisions as they decide to gamble on set lines, but I’m not certain it provides any different circumstance from a communication or seeking information standpoint than what we have now without those reports.”
The 2019 NCAA football season kicks off on August 24 with a couple of games, including a matchup between Miami and Florida in Orlando.
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