Integrity or entertainment: Will the NCAA ban prop bets?

Integrity or entertainment: Will the NCAA ban prop bets?

Graphic by Milo Gildea.

In the world of college sports, where student-athletes are inseparable from campus community and frequently interact with fans, concerns have arisen that prop bets may negatively influence players.

A prop bet is a wager in which bettors place individual bets on a player to score higher or lower than a certain number of points, and the same goes with assists, rebounds, blocks and steals. San Diego State University Athletic Director J.D. Wicker acknowledged that outside pressures may lead players to try and cater to fans’ bets.

“Our student-athletes are going to class, (and) they’re more available in the community,” Wicker said in an ESPN story on the subject. “So there’s a lot more opportunity for one of them to be pressured, for them to have something negative happen because maybe they miss the free throw or they miss the over, the under, all those types of things.”

Ole Miss’ football program has taken steps to educate and better equip its players to deal with college sports prop bets.

“I don’t have a ton of knowledge in that area, so when I don’t, we bring people in for that,” Kiffin said after Ole Miss Football’s Tuesday practice. “We had someone speak to the SEC coaches about this (at SEC Spring Meetings), and I thought that they did a great job. They’ve worked with the NFL, they’ve worked with other colleges and they were people that knew how it worked.”

Students at the University of Mississippi are skeptical that the state will pursue a ban on prop bets.

“I don’t see a world where there isn’t sports betting in college,” Cooper Chapman, a freshman business major, said. “People would be outraged, warranted or not, and the NCAA would lose a lot of its viewer base.”

Grant Ward, a freshman engineering major, feels similarly.

“For Mississippi specifically, we are just now getting to a point where we might be able to bet online,” Ward said. “I don’t see Mississippi taking a stance that will undoubtedly cause outrage among the general public.”

This debate has gotten all the way to the top of the NCAA, as President Charlie Baker weighed in on the matter.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed,” Baker said in an X post. “The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats and many have responded by banning college prop bets.”

Purdue basketball player Carson Barrett received an Instagram direct message from a fan telling him to kill himself for making a three-pointer that put Purdue over the betting line, according to reporting from The Athletic.

People frequently harass players publicly on social media when the players do not reach a certain stat. You can see this on X any time a player performs poorly in one game.

In another instance, the integrity of an NBA game was called into question when Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter was caught taking the under on his own stats. In simple terms, he bet that he himself would score below a certain number of points. He is accused of intentionally missing shots to make this happen.

No official report has been released on the NBA’s investigation of the situation.

Baker closed his statement on X with a promise that the NCAA will address the problems created by prop bets.

“The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student athletes and to protect the
integrity of the game — issues across the country these last several days show there is more
work to be done.”

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