Jim Phillips was a former director of athletics at Northwestern. During his tenure there, he had heavily protested against introducing sports betting in college-level sports. But now, as sports betting in college events seem like more of a reality, he is currently working as Commissioner of the ACC to prepare all member schools for the challenges that may arise.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to repeal the PASA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). The PASA had made sports betting illegal in all states except Nevada illegal from 1992. But since 2018, 21 US States have already legalized sports betting in their state, and a dozen more are in the process of doing so. When Phillips took charge of the ACC in February 2021, he decided to first deal with sports betting in college-level sports.
In the ACC’s annual meeting in May, Sportradar Integrity Services presented some data. They are known for their services related to maintaining sports integrity in top sporting events like NASCAR, NBA, Major League Baseball, and many more. ACC had asked Sportradar to present the overall betting summary for nearly 27 sports at the end of the season. This was done so that the members could gauge the risk levels involved in sports wagering.
Sportradar has a four-step approach to its sports integrity maintenance program. The first step is collecting regular data to identify any irregularities in betting patterns that can be signs of foul play. The next step is to create rules and regulations that are practical as well as applicable. The third step is to spread awareness about the rules and the consequences of breaking those sports betting protocols. The fourth and final step is an investigation into any possible wrong-doings.
Andy Cunningham, head of the US division of Sportradar, said that the presentation to the ACC in May was to explain to them the potential of the sports betting market in college sports and its possible risks and advantages. Cunningham said that Sportradar had monitored nearly 600,000 games in 2020 in 80 different leagues, and only 500 had been identified as having some potential betting malpractice.
ACC Deputy Commissioner Brad Hostetter is skeptical about the impact of sports betting in college sports. He believes that college athletes may reveal confidential information about the lineup and injuries that can impact the results of a game for some economic benefits. Some other skeptics of sports betting include former Director of Athletics of UAV, Carla Williams, who fears that sports betting will lead to increased instances of online trolling and bullying between online bettors and college athletes.
ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips also feels that it will be challenging to keep aggression and toxicity out of the classroom environment when college students bet on their classmates’ sporting events.
Sports betting in college sports may take some time to be fully introduced, but men like Phillips are already making plans to ensure that it does not negatively impact the players and athletes involved in the sports.