To this end, the NCAA has announced that it has changed its guidelines to perhaps expand the scope of the punishment, although this would be down to interpretation on a case-by-case basis.
For one, the previous guidelines stated that an athlete that has been found to breach the gambling rules would not be eligible to play in the season, but the new guidelines are making this language a little more ambiguous. This comes at a time when many student-athletes are actually partaking in sports gambling.
NCAA Takes Closer Look at Betting Offenses
Right now, though, the NCAA states that such offenses and breaches may lead to a potential loss of collegiate legibility. In other words, the tone has been lessened. However, the overall signal from the NCAA is of toughening the stance against such breaches. Student-athletes who have bet on their own sports will lose 50% of their season eligibility. In those cases when actual wagers are placed, the size of the wagers would be taken into consideration.
For example, bets totalling $201-$500 could lead to only a 10% loss of seasonal eligibility, whereas bets of more than $800 could end up in a 30% loss of seasonal eligibility. These new guidelines are updated to reflect the changing nature of sports gambling and college sports in the United States argues Division I Legislative Committee chair and athletic director at Jacksonville Alex Ricker-Gilbert:
While sports wagering by college athletes is still a concern — particularly as we remain committed to preserving the integrity of competition in college sports — consideration of mitigating factors is appropriate as staff prescribe penalties for young people who have made mistakes in this space.
Jacksonville Alex Ricker-Gilbert
Is This the Right Policy, Really?
However, this may not be the right course of action as it could be misinterpreted not as leniency on young athletes making an honest mistake and more so as a loophole for some athletes to explore as some critics have grumbled. If athletes know that they can get away without a full-season suspension, they may tempt to try.
The idea is to completely eliminate the risk of having college sports undermined by unauthorized gambling in the long term. The NCAA is also looking for ways to potentially monetize sports betting sponsorships at a time when many colleges have been axing such deals.