By Jack Copeland
An NCAA study released today indicates progress in educating student-athletes on dangers of sports wagering, but also points to areas where additional efforts are needed.
The Association’s second national study on sports-wagering behaviors finds that Division I student-athletes targeted by educational efforts since the first study in 2004 demonstrate more familiarity with NCAA rules that ban gambling on sports, and that most believe education discourages wagering by student-athletes.
The study, which also measures changes in and the prevalence of sports-wagering activities among student-athletes, indicates reduced wagering or related behavior among student-athletes in groups targeted most frequently by educational efforts – notably, Division I men’s basketball players.
However, the survey also indicates increases among male student-athletes in “social levels” of wagering on sports, in violation of NCAA rules. The survey also points to areas where increased educational efforts likely are needed, such as men’s golf.
The findings are encouraging to NCAA officials as a measurement of educational progress since the 2004 study, and helpful in pointing to specific areas where future efforts are most needed.
“The research is another indicator that no campus is immune to sports-wagering issues, and every school needs to be diligent in its efforts to educate student-athletes and the entire campus to the dangers of sports wagering,” said Rachel Newman Baker, NCAA director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities.
“We are encouraged the research provides a positive indicator that our efforts to date have been impactful, and we also will use the findings as guidance for additional educational endeavors.”
Results of the survey were released this morning at the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association Annual Meeting and Symposium in St. Louis. FARs at NCAA member institutions assisted in administering the survey during 2008 to approximately 20,000 student-athletes, who anonymously answered questions on whether they socially (at least once per year), frequently (at least once monthly) or heavily (at least once weekly) engaged in various forms of sports wagering.
Among noteworthy findings pointing to changes in wagering behavior, the study indicates:
Probing the impact of education on sports wagering, the study indicates:
As a result of the 2004 study, the NCAA stepped up educational efforts to include presentations to each of the 32 teams (16 men’s and 16 women’s teams) participating in the regional rounds of the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships; developed a Web site and other materials to support educational efforts on campuses; and developed a sports-wagering curriculum for high schools in conjunction with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.
That latter initiative takes on new importance with a finding in this year’s study that 92 percent of male college student-athletes who gamble began doing so before enrolling in college.
Compared with 2004, men still greatly outnumber women as social, frequent and heavy gamblers in all three divisions, with 30 percent of males reporting they gambled in one way or another on sports – a violation of NCAA rules.
The survey, however, indicates some reduction among all student-athletes in heavy levels of sports wagering, with no more than 3.2 percent of male student-athletes and no more than 0.2 percent of females in any of the NCAA’s three divisions reporting weekly wagering.
The reduction is especially noteworthy in Division III, where nearly 7 percent of male student-athletes reported heavy wagering on sports in 2004.
However, men and women in the NCAA’s largest membership division continued to show higher percentages of sports gambling than in other divisions. Although comparisons against the general student body are not available, 37 percent of Division III male student-athletes reported wagering at the social level, compared to 28 percent in Division II and 22 percent in Division I. Among women, 9 percent of Division III student-athletes reported social levels of wagering, compared to 6 percent in Division II and 4 percent in Division I.
Analysis by sport pinpoints men’s golf as a particular problem area in all three divisions, with 40 percent of Division I male golfers reporting social levels of wagering and 8 percent gambling at least once a week. In comparison, 12 percent of Division I men’s basketball players bet on sports at the social level. Across all divisions, 20 percent of male golfers reported at least monthly sports wagering.
Those findings are likely to prompt more concerted educational efforts at various golf-related events, including presentations at the Division I Men’s Golf Championships similar to those that have been offered for Division I men’s and women’s basketball. The NCAA also will promote its “Don’t Bet on It” campaign by providing golf tees bearing the program’s logo to participants at all regional and finals competition sites in next spring’s Divisions I, II and III Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships.
Also planned is a presentation for coaches at next month’s meeting of the Golf Coaches Association of America.
“We take this issue very seriously,” said Mark Crabtree, GCAA president and golf coach at Louisville. “We look forward to working with the NCAA, our membership and our student-athletes to educate them on all forms on gambling. This is an issue we will address – with the assistance of the NCAA – at our national convention in early December and work with the entire golfing community throughout the year in an effort to improve the situation.”
The 2004 study prompted the appointment by former NCAA President Myles Brand of a sports wagering task force, which recommended many of the educational initiatives that have been enacted since then by the Association.
"We want an extended effort to educate as many people as possible – coaches, athletics directors, officials, student-athletes, and of course the broader society, too," said the Rev. Edward Malloy, then president at Notre Dame and chair of the task force, upon release of that group’s report.