NCAA: Point shaving threatens college sports
In the wake of Monday’s allegations against two former men’s basketball student-athletes and a former assistant coach, the NCAA reiterated its stance that point shaving is a crime that undermines the Association’s mission. It must be reduced through a strong enforcement process and educational initiatives to combat sports wagering.
Student-athletes who engage in point-shaving activities are breaking the law and jeopardizing their eligibility. Those involved in organized gambling view student-athletes, especially those in financial trouble, as easy marks for obtaining inside information or for affecting the outcome of a game.
Point shaving is a clear threat to student-athlete well-being and the integrity of the game, said NCAA President Mark Emmert. The NCAA specifically prohibits wagering on college or professional athletics events by coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes, or giving information to anyone who places bets on college or professional sports.
“There is nothing more threatening to the integrity of sports anywhere than the uncovering of a point-shaving scheme,” Emmert said. “This scheme is especially disturbing because efforts to compromise game outcomes extended over more than one season, involved individuals on more than one team and was successful, according to the indictment. Point shaving, of course, is a federal offense, and the NCAA is grateful to the FBI and all of law enforcement for their efforts to combat the crime.
“For intercollegiate athletics, the consequence for point shaving is harsh and immediate – the permanent loss of eligibility. That message is part of the ongoing educational package the NCAA delivers to teams and campuses each year. Student-athletes are made aware of the dangers associated with sports wagering and point shaving, as well as the consequences. Sadly, it sometimes isn’t enough.”
The NCAA’s agent, gambling and amateurism activities staff shares pertinent information on sports wagering and organized crime with the FBI and U.S. Attorney General’s advisory groups, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, MLB, campus security officers, coaches associations and campus student life personnel. The NCAA defers action on any active case until the process has concluded with the FBI and U.S. attorney.
Additionally, the NCAA has established relationships with gaming officials in Las Vegas to share information and provide a better mutual understanding of the wagering activity and trends on NCAA contests in sports books.
For the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, agent, gambling and amateurism activities staff travel to Las Vegas for the early-round games. Staff members conduct sports wagering educational sessions in each team’s locker room in conjunction with the open practice day at each regional site. All 32 teams, including all student-athletes and coaches, are required to participate.
The Association also works with its membership to make sure resources and materials are in place to address the sports wagering issue on campus, including making flyers available for posting in locker rooms and other team areas. The “Don’t Bet On It” website serves as an interactive sports wagering education resource for administrators, coaches, student-athletes and public. Efforts include a sports-wagering curriculum for high schools.
According to a 2008 NCAA study on collegiate wagering, 1.6 percent of Division I men’s basketball student-athletes and 1.2 percent of Division I football student-athletes (FBS or FCS) who were surveyed reported having been asked to influence the outcome of a game. Those findings are a slight decline from the NCAA’s original 2003 study, which showed those numbers to be 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
The NCAA recognizes that officials also are targets for potential point-shaving scandals. Background checks are conducted for officials and umpires in the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, Division I football bowl games, the Men’s Frozen Four and the College World Series.
The NCAA is extremely concerned regarding the point-shaving allegations involving two former men’s basketball student-athletes and a former assistant coach.
These allegations are precisely why the NCAA continues to take such a strong stance against any sports wagering activities. We take any allegation of point shaving very seriously as it is a crime that threatens two core NCAA principles –health and safety of student-athletes and the integrity of the game. We commend the FBI and all of law enforcement for its continued diligence in this area and appreciate their effort to help combat point shaving. The NCAA will defer any action until the process has concluded with the FBI and U.S. attorney.
As this news demonstrates, the threat is real and no campus is immune. From our own research, we know that 1.6 percent of Division I men’s basketball student-athletes have reported being asked to affect the outcome of the game. While this number may be considered low by some, any incident is too many.
For this reason, the NCAA and its members have taken a leadership role to address the issues involving sports wagering in an effort to reduce the incidence of point shaving. These initiatives included national and targeted educational outreach, as well as strong enforcement efforts for all divisions and sports. In addition, the NCAA regularly works with outside organizations such as local, state and federal law enforcement and Las Vegas gaming officials, each of whom have a vested interest in the issue.
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