With Iowa’s public universities — housing the state’s highest-profile athletes — navigating their response to a new law legalizing collegiate sports gambling, the institutions’ governing board next week will look inward and weigh a new policy barring regents and regent staff from betting on any of their NCAA teams, athletes, coaches or related events.
The new board policy, scheduled for consideration Nov. 14, comes in response to the new Iowa law that was enacted in May and took effect in August allowing sports wagering and fantasy sports contests in the state. The policy applies to Iowa’s nine volunteer regents and board office staff — which currently includes 18 members plus Executive Director Mark Braun.
“In order to provide the Board of Regents and board office staff with clear guidance on acceptable conduct with regard to sports wagering, board authorization of the following sports wagering policy is requested,” according to an agenda item seeking board approval of the new policy. “The purpose of this policy is to remove any question of a potential conflict of interest with regard to legal sports wagering on regent university athletic events.”
NCAA regulations long have barred athletes — along with those involved in training, coaching, recruiting, and managing them and their teams — from betting on sports, saving Iowa’s NCAA schools from needing to enact new policies and practices in response to the new law.
But the universities still are upping education across their athletic departments about consequences of violating those rules — in case the legalization increases the temptation. And they’re warning students and others about the potential for members of the public to come sniffing for inside information.
University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta last week said his campus is spending “a lot of time and money” educating athletes and staff, noting concerns about students who aren’t athletes themselves but work with the athletes — like trainers.
The new proposed regent policy is not as strict as the NCAA policy, which prohibits its athletes, athletics employees, and others with athletics oversight or responsibilities — like a university president — from betting on any NCAA-sponsored sport, regardless of whether it’s an NCAA event.
That means, for example, football betting is off limits at any level — from peewee to the NFL.
The NCAA policy is not clear on whether it pertains to members of NCAA institution governing boards.
The proposed Board of Regents policy only bars regents and board staff from betting on any athletic event involving a regent university NCAA team or those teams, athletes, or coaches themselves.
The policy only applies to active regents and office staff — not former regents or employees.
And it pertains to betting at any regulated or licensed gambling facility — including casinos and gambling boats licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission or operated pursuant the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act — as well as licensed or regulated internet sites or mobile applications.
Regents and staffers, per the proposed policy, also are barred from providing information about of the teams, athletes, or coaches they oversee that “is not otherwise generally available to the public.”
The policy doesn’t apply to fantasy sports contests.
Anyone found to violate the policy “may be subject to appropriate discipline,” which Board of Regents spokesman Josh Lehman said would depend on the specific circumstances.
“Any situation would be looked at individually,” he said.
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