Dealing with the impact of regulated sports betting is one of the biggest issues the NCAA has on its plate these days. NCAA President Charlie Baker addressed those concerns recently at the Future of College Sports conference with some eye opening comments about how college sports can cope with, and even monetize, the challenges of world where sports betting is front and center.
Baker does not see regulated operators as an enemy of college sports, he sees them as potential business partners. “That’s a major opportunity, right in front of us. We have a major opportunity to get into the sports betting space,” he said in comments reported on by Forbes.
The NCAA’s big boss then went on to, seemingly, dismiss recent controversies regarding the partnerships between Division I universities and gaming operators adding, “… anybody who has a phone (being) able to bet from any place they want and two-thirds to almost three quarters of all people between the ages of 18 and 22 betting on sports.”
Several major universities including LSU and the University of Colorado have recently broken ties with sportsbooks because of criticism that they were potentially pointing college students towards problem gambling. The American Gaming Association has also urged its membership to cut ties with colleges and universities for that very same reason.
Undeterred by reality, Baker continued on saying, “The truth is, if there are lots of kids on campus betting on college sports and betting on the teams on their campus, this puts student-athletes in a very difficult position. … (The NCAA needs to) create a program that we hope we’re going to get everybody to endorse around helping them develop the tools and techniques (athletes are) going to need to deal with this stuff.”
Whether or not Baker’s ideas make their way into the world of college sports remains very unclear at this point.