Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Inconsistent Themes

by Jeff Konya, Associate A.D./Compliance

I understand America’s obsession with all things gambling. I really do. At 2 a.m., I can watch meaningless poker on ESPN2 and, for some unknown reason, start cheering for the Degree “All In” Moment.
But, with my job in SMU Athletics, as well as the given vocations of the other athletics staff members, coaches and student-athletes, NCAA rules strictly prohibit sports gambling or wagering. For example, the NCAA rulebook restricts the ability of such “athletically-tagged” individuals from providing information to those involved in organized gambling (just google Tulane, Northwestern, or Arizona State point shaving), soliciting or accepting a bet on any team for any item (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) that has a tangible benefit or participating in a gambling activity that involves intercollegiate or professional athletics through a bookmaker, parlay card or any other method employed by legalized gambling (just google Washington Huskies). In fact, just this week, SMU athletics will be fortunate to bring the NCAA Associate Director for Gambling and a current FBI Agent who tracks the betting lines and conducts investigations to the Hilltop for some discussions with our athletes and staff as part of our Champs Life Skills program.

So, we are doing our part for education. But what about the gurus at the Women’s Sports Foundation?

Let me get this straight, this organization wants you to fill out a March Madness bracket and in doing so, you make a donation to their organization. OK, sounds great. Now, what if I told you this organization has partnered with the NCAA on several occasions and will continue to do so. To me, it doesn’t pass my personal smell test. The principles of gambling are so questionable that we, as an organization (i.e., NCAA), will legislate against it but we will allow one of our non-profit sports foundation partners to use the same gambling principles as the backbone of a marketing donation campaign. Yes, help sponsor girls at the youth level where they might one day grow to become a NCAA student-athlete by filling out this March Madness bracket. I can already hear Richard Sweet’s wonderfully melodic tone in my ear. Perhaps next year SMU Athletics will offer a similar March Madness donation campaign where you, the Mustang supporter, can fill out a bracket and “Bet on Ponies.” All I need to do is somehow convince the NCAA that the benevolence of donations can temporarily suspend the intent, content, substance and form of their own gambling legislation. Bet on it!

Last IPOD music download- “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley


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