NCAA to allow appeals on sports betting bans

The NCAA recently amended its bylaws regarding sports betting and will take a case-by-case approach to potential violations in the future, which may include expanded legal sports wagering.

Previously, student-athletes found to have participated in sports betting were subject to an automatic loss of eligibility, ranging from one season to a complete ban if violators were believed to have attempted to influence the outcome of a game or bet on an event involving their institution. The sanctions could not be appealed.

In late April, the NCAA Division I Council removed that language from the bylaws.

"To promote increased fairness, the committee believes it is important to conduct a case-by-case review of sports wagering violations and also provide an appellate opportunity," the NCAA legislative committee wrote in its rationale for the amendment.

The amendment was adopted April 25.

The change in policy comes ahead of a potential landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court that could open a path for states to legalize sports betting, something the NCAA opposes. A decision from the Supreme Court is expected by the end of June and could come as early as next week.

"The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community," the NCAA states on its website.

The NCAA defines sports wagering as any activity that requires an entry fee and in which a prize is awarded, including fantasy leagues and March Madness pools.

The NCAA's amendment comes at a time when upwards of 20 states have explored some type of sports betting bill this year. To date, the NCAA has yet to publicly lobby for or against any of the bills. A University of Connecticut representative, however, did testify during a legislative hearing in the state last month.

"Currently, the [NCAA] opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering and has strict guidelines for member institutions in place reflecting that position," UConn senior associate athletic director Neal Eskin stated in written testimony to the state's Public Safety and Security Committee.