NCAA President Charlie Baker raised some eyebrows when hinting that the association may get into the sports betting space to explore potential new revenue streams.
Entering the Sports Betting Space
Speaking at an event titled “The Future of College Sport” hosted in Washington, DC by the University of Arizona and its president, Robert C. Robbins, Baker hinted about plans to generate new income, including some controversial options such as monetizing sports betting partnerships, reported Forbes.
“We have a major opportunity to get into the sports betting space,” Baker said and went on to elaborate that this means entering a market comprising “anybody who has a phone” and can wager “from any place they want,” with “two-thirds to almost three-quarters of all people between the ages of 18 and 22 (currently) betting on sports.”
Hearing the new NCAA president speak about sports betting opportunities as potential revenue streams for college sports raised eyebrows in the room but Baker softened the blow by adding that the NCAA will come up with a program to address the issue of putting student-athletes in a very difficult position “if there are lots of kids on campus betting on college sports and betting on the teams on their campus.”
Ethical Issues Around Athletes
Baker also shared his expectation that the NCAA will “get everybody to endorse around (this program) helping them develop the tools and techniques (those involved with the issue are) going to need to deal with this stuff.”
And while he would not go into details about his strategy anytime soon, Baker hinted that other NCAA sports beginning with women’s basketball, and then women’s softball, baseball, volleyball, and other sports, will gradually be put “out to bid” individually.
“We dramatically underperform across a whole bunch of other revenue-raising opportunities,” Baker added, adamant that “those items are going to get a lot of attention … over the course of … the next four to six months.”
Baker failed to recognize the ethical quandary the NCAA creates for its athletes by not permitting them to “opt out” of having their performance data aggregated and sold to media and gambling companies as part of a leveraged package product.
On the contrary, he believes that athlete data is the main driving force behind growth in media and gambling contracts, pointing to professional sports and their union contracts as proof that athlete data should remain inseparable from the NCAA product, and it would not be him the leader who would ask the athletes about who should be able to access and sell their data or not.