Sports gambling has been an issue for as long as the two entities have co-existed, and with advances in technology and legislature, it’s easier now than ever to bet on college and professional sports.
However, gambling on the outcomes of games and the events that take place during the heat of competition is a sensitive topic. Fixing or throwing games is at risk when players, coaches, or anyone associated with sporting events has money riding on the contest.
That’s why the NCAA has a strict policy against athletes, coaches, and anyone directly affiliated with college athletics gambling on any kind of sporting event.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen NCAA investigations launched surrounding gambling accusations at schools across the country, one of which was Iowa State.
During an exclusive interview with Heartland College Sports, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard discussed the challenges of this issue and how athletic departments should handle athletes gambling.
“The first thing I would say to my peers is make sure you’re educating,” Pollard said. “Because that’s what’s going to keep this as an eligibility issue and not something far greater from the NCAA standpoint about institutional control. Not one of our student-athletes or staff members that are caught up in this has said they didn’t know. They all admitted that they knew they couldn’t do it. They just didn’t know they were going to get caught doing it. So, we have done our part to educate on numerous occasions. They’ve all signed documents saying they couldn’t do it and unfortunately, they did do it.
“The second thing that I would tell all my peers is that the current rule is, if you bet on any college sport you’re done for your career. It’s over. It’s done. That’s a really, really harsh penalty. So, you’d better be educating your student-athletes that they’re playing with fire.”
Pollard also made sure to clarify that what is happening at Iowa State is not the same thing that happened with Alabama baseball earlier this spring.
“To just clarify, and I can only speak for Iowa State, this is not what happened at Alabama,” Pollard said. “This is not where somebody was rogue, trying to do something to gain an advantage. This is clearly a situation where we had student-athletes and staff members that were using their phone and were on a FanDuel or one of the other many gambling apps, and that’s illegal. It’s illegal to do it if you are a minor, it’s illegal to do it if your using somebody else’s name and it’s an NCAA violation to do it, regardless.”
While Pollard does admit that his student-athletes and staff members did understand that they’d broken the rules, he suggests that it might be time to take a look at some of the punishments, that seem rather harsh.
“It’s safe to say what’s happening at Iowa and Iowa State is happening around the country,” Pollard said. “Unfortunately, in our particular situation, it’s like speeding. We can all say people speed, but the day that the police officer is sitting on your street and has the radar gun on you, that’s not an excuse…
“It does feel that our society is way ahead of where the rules are on this subject. It reminds me a little bit of how marijuana was viewed five years ago and how its viewed today in terms of penalties and punishments. Quite frankly, we might end up being the test case for the NCAA that will change what the punishments will be in the future.”
As unfortunate as it is, it appears that Iowa State will have some athletes and staff members pay the price for doing what so many of us have the freedom to do as fans of college sports. Perhaps this will be the case that makes changes for the future, and while it is unknown as to the extent of what will happen at ISU, it does appear that they will be the example with such a hot-button topic in sports right now.