Mark Emmert: NCAA wants a ban on athletes making legal sports bets

The NCAA has no interest in allowing college athletes to place wagers on sporting events.

It’s natural that the NCAA wouldn’t want players to make bets on games they’re competing in or for football players to be banned from betting on college football games and baseball players prevented from betting on college baseball games.

But according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, the collegiate governing body wants to take a betting ban as far as it can go and prevent athletes from placing legal sports bets entirely.

“We want a prohibition,” Emmert said Thursday in Minneapolis ahead of the Final Four. “The membership wants a prohibition of athletes gambling in any sports, period.”

As the widespread legalization of sports betting begins, the irony of Emmert taking such a strong stand against sports wagering at the Final Four is delicious. The NCAA tournament is one of the most popular sporting events in the country because of gambling. The printable brackets that the NCAA itself even provides aren’t being used for people to fill in the winners as the tournament goes along.

NCAA enforcement of a betting ban also seems fraught with loopholes. It simply doesn’t have the resources or ability to monitor who is placing bets and with whom. The NCAA already has a hard enough time keeping up with the deals being arranged for basketball recruits to commit to certain schools.

Emmert doesn’t say much regarding player likeness

As politicians begin to take up the cause of college athletes getting compensated for their image rights, Emmert didn’t offer much regarding a shifting NCAA stance toward player compensation.

NCAA athletes currently can’t profit from their name or likeness. It’s why Virginia’s Kyle Guy had to have his wedding registry taken down earlier in the week. A bill proposed in the House of Representatives would push for college athletes to retain those rights and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has also started railing against the lack of compensation athletes receive.

Emmert said Thursday that likeness and image rights would be discussed going forward. But that’s about it.

“We've obviously talked to [Rep. Mark Walker] and are trying to understand his position and trying to make sure he understands ours,” Emmert said. “There is very likely to be in the coming months even more discussion about the whole notion of name, image, and likeness, and how it fits into or doesn't fit into the current legal framework and the environment of college sports.

“Similarly, there needs to be a lot of conversation about how — if it was possible, how it would be practicable. Is there any way to make that work and still allow fair competitive relationships among schools? And nobody's been able to come up with a resolution yet around that.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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