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All bets are off: NCAA takes stance against prop betting

Grace O

Despite being the betting underdog in their three tournament wins thus far, the Clemson Tigers overcame the New Mexico Lobos, the Baylor Bears and the Arizona Wildcats en route to their first Elite Eight appearance since 1980. But amidst the annual buzz surrounding the March tournament, collegiate sports collided with the ever-expanding world of sports betting.

NCAA President Charlie Baker released a statement on March 27 regarding the state of sports gambling on college athletics and the threat it potentially poses to the competition.

“The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game,” Baker said.

Baker identified “prop betting” as the most significant threat to college athletics and competing athletes. In prop betting, bettors predict a player to go over or under their given prop for a certain statistic.

These wagers are tied directly to player performance instead of the result of the team’s result and are especially relevant to basketball because of the variety of prop options, which include statistics like points, assists, rebounds, three-pointers and turnovers.

One issue with prop betting is that it gives bettors a direct target to point their finger at. For the unpaid student-athletes who step into the spotlight, a whole new dimension of pressure and ridicule is created by their betting props each game, as mentioned by Clemson head coach Brad Brownell last week. 

“People are extremely aggressive these days,” Brownell said. “We get phone calls in our office sometimes. When things, obviously, don’t go a bettor’s way, we get some nasty calls.”

Athletes already feel the pressure. When most predicted the 11-seed New Mexico Lobos to take down Brownell’s team, Clemson players felt every ounce of that doubt.

“Everybody was against us,” senior guard Chase Hunter said after the Tigers’ first-round win.

But prop betting also threatens perhaps the most thrilling aspect of the 67-game tournament: its unpredictability. Despite millions of attempts, there has never been a perfect March Madness bracket. Upsets and Cinderella stories define the competition, proving everyone has a shot at glory. However, prop betting generates the potential for illegal insider information and unfair advantages. 

For unethical gamblers looking for an edge, prop bets can be exploited if prior knowledge of a player’s performance is obtained. Furthermore, unpaid college players may seek a profit by betting on props they can directly influence, as seen with collegiate athletes in the past. 

“This week, we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland, and many others to remove college prop bets from all betting markets,” Baker said.

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Ethan Silipo, Senior Reporter
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    Blake BellApr 7, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    Nice job ethan