NCAA Football Injury Report Decision Could Impact Bettors
College football betting fans may be left scratching their heads at the betting counter this fall.
The NCAA will not standardize injury reports for the 2019 season, according to the Associated Press. Teams will not be required to file injury reports ahead of games, denying bettors critical information for placing bets.
“The membership has significant concerns about the purpose, parameters, enforcement and effectiveness of a player availability reporting model,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake, Chair of the NCAA’s Board of Governors, according the AP.
This means that while some programs will be welcome to provide the media, and thus the public, player availability information, they will not be forced to do so by the NCAA.
The question was addressed largely due to the rapid rise of legal sports betting in the United States since the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports betting ban in May 2018. The NCAA has even made contributions of its own such as its lifting of event bans in states that allow gaming.
But the NCAA didn’t mandate standard injury reports before last football season and shows no intent to do so in 2019.
An ad hoc committee decided not to mandate injury report standardization after gathering feedback from conference commissioners, athletics administrators, trainers and athletes across all three divisions about potential player availability reporting.
Stakeholders argued that even the term “injury report” conflicted with federal laws regarding college students and the protection of their privacy as medical patients.
Reports a Major Issue with Conference Officials
The Supreme Court decision didn’t legalize sports betting in all 50 states, but instead allowed each jurisdiction to pass laws if it chose to do so. Up to a dozen states are expected to take sports bets by the start of this season.
But leaving this state-by-state legalization approach without federal guidance is part of why NCAA program officials are wary of mandatory injury reports.
ACC commissioner John Swofford reiterated this concern during conference media days, according to an Orlando Sentinel report, offering a perspective he said was shared by other college football leaders.
If there is going to be betting, can there be some consistency in how that is done procedurally from state-to-state instead of every state having something different? We have 10 states in our league and it would really complicate life if there is not some consistency to how it happens.”
According to the same report, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey echoed those thoughts in a July media event.
“I also believe it has to resolve issues for our teams, our athletic programs and our participants as opposed to simply serve gambling interests. I understand the availability report can help people make decisions as they decide to gamble or set lines, but I’m not certain it provides any different circumstance from a communication or seeking information standpoint than what we have now without those reports.”
Frustrations for College Football Bettors Continues
The desire for more clarity from NCAA programs regarding injuries and other roster developments is not unique to sports bettors. Journalists have struggled getting the latest updates from coaches for years.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a notorious reputation for withholding depth charts and timely injury news even to the point where he's released old rosters to joke with media.
But Harbaugh is merely one example of an ever-present trend that will likely continue to frustrate bettors across the country.
"Until the NCAA makes it mandatory that you do a injury report we will never address injuries during a season."— ESPN 700 (@ESPN700) August 7, 2019
Kyle Whittingham talks about injury reports going forward.#Utespic.twitter.com/tuQ19COCfo
An injury to a star quarterback, for example, can dramatically shift betting lines and outright odds ahead of a game.
With the many factors professional bettors take into account before making their decisions, knowing who’s going to be on the field if possible is absolutely crucial to success.
Regardless, it appears that program discretion will remain the norm for college football for at least another season.
Given the concerns stated, it’s logical to assume that if sports betting continues its steady rise in availability and popularity, the issue could be brought back up and decided next season.