Intercollegiate athletic programs must be viewed as part of an institutional culture of integrity that prioritizes the academic mission and ensures that student-athletes are first and foremost students in programs of higher education. The legitimization of collegiate sports wagering imposes risks that have the potential to undermine the integrity of both the institution and the sports contests, as well as to jeopardize the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community, if the risks are not adequately addressed by colleges and universities.
To protect the integrity of college athletics contests, the NCAA has in place regulations that prohibit student-athletes from betting money on any sporting event (college, professional or otherwise) in which the NCAA conducts collegiate championships. Violations of this regulation may result in a student-athlete losing his or her athletics eligibility, which has clear negative repercussions for the individual, the team, and the school. The NCAA Board of Governors recently issued a resolution reinforcing the NCAA’s commitment to student-athlete well-being and protecting the integrity of college athletics from the influences of sports wagering.
The culture of integrity cannot be sustained by NCAA regulations alone. Higher education institutions should consider developing and strengthening policies and procedures, as well as training and education programs, designed to enhance institutional integrity. No school wants to be at the center of a cheating scandal, or to have its star athlete lose NCAA eligibility, or be found under the NCAA Rules to be lacking in institutional control.