Charlie Baker, the current president of the NCAA and former Massachusetts Governor, has expressed his growing concerns about the impact of legal gambling on college athletes and the integrity of amateur sports. He specifically highlighted his worries about “prop bets,” a form of wagering that allows gamblers to place a bet on an individual play linked to a specific player.
During an interview with CBS News, Baker discussed how the legalization of sports betting has significantly affected college athletics. Legalized sports gambling has become a massive industry, with $93 billion wagered on sports in 2022 alone. Of this, more than $15 billion was wagered on NCAA March Madness this year.
Baker, a former center for Harvard University’s basketball team, highlighted the pressure college students face when they see their friends and classmates risking large amounts of money on their performance. He specifically emphasized his concern about prop bets, which have no connection to the overall outcome of the game and could easily go unnoticed.
Furthermore, Baker expressed worries about the potential for student-athletes to inadvertently share insider information and be coerced into compromising situations. He gave an example of how friends or classmates on campus could potentially manipulate a player into intentionally missing shots during a game.
In response to these concerns, Baker called for states to work with the NCAA to ban prop bets on collegiate sporting events and student-athletes. He also revealed that the NCAA has been in communication with gaming firms to create a “prohibited bettors list” consisting of individuals with a history of harassing coaches or players.
Baker emphasized the importance of educating student-athletes and schools about the risks associated with gambling and the need for swift detection of any questionable activity. He also highlighted the need for regulations to protect those involved in college sports, such as preventing the necessity of 24/7 police guard for athletes during NCAA championship events.
As pressure and money surrounding college sports continue to grow, experts predict that a major scandal is inevitable. With this in mind, Baker and his team are focused on informing and educating individuals within the collegiate sports community to prevent and quickly address any illicit activities.