The NCAA has announced a new set of guidelines designed to address the evolution of legalized sports gambling while protecting the sanctity of college sports and athletes.

“The new NCAA guidelines … recogniz[e] that college athletes may stumble and make mistakes along the way, but they should be granted the opportunity to learn and grow from their experiences.”

The rise of sports wagering has prompted the need for effective regulation to ensure fairness and integrity amongst athletic institutions at professional and collegiate levels. Additionally, there has been a growing concern over the increasing number of young adults engaging in sports wagering nationwide. A recent survey conducted by the NCAA found that 67% of college students living on campus have engaged in at least one sports betting activity. A recent survey conducted by the NCAA found that 67% of college students living on campus have engaged in at least one sports betting activity.

The new NCAA guidelines focus on enforcing stringent policies and preserving the integrity of competition in college sports while recognizing that college athletes may stumble and make mistakes along the way, but they should be granted the opportunity to learn and grow from their experiences.

Applying to all wagering-related violations reported on or after May 2, 2023, the new rules enforce a potential permanent loss of collegiate eligibility for those college athletes who engage in various prohibited activities such as engaging in activities to influence game outcomes, betting on their own games, betting on other sports within their school, or knowingly providing information with individuals engaged in sports betting. The guidelines also provide:

  • If a student-athlete wagers on their own sport at another school, education on sports wagering rules and prevention will be required as a condition of reinstatement, and the loss of 50% of one season of eligibility will be considered.
  • For all other wagering-related violations (e.g., wagering on professional sports), cumulative dollar value of the wagers will be taken into consideration with the following terms for reinstatement:
    • $200 or less: sports wagering rules and prevention education.
    • $201-$500: loss of 10% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.
    • $501-$800: loss of 20% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.
    • Greater than $800: loss of 30% of a season of eligibility, plus rules and prevention education.

Moreover, NCAA reinstatement staff are instructed to consider whether additional loss of eligibility, including permanent ineligibility, is necessary for cumulative wagering activities that significantly exceed $800.

Prior to the legalization of sports wagering, reinstatement guidelines called for college athletes who wagered on sports at any level, in most cases, to lose one full season of collegiate eligibility. Under the new guidelines, the NCAA aims to modernize in light of the reality that many states have legalized sports wagering and made it accessible online. It conveys a strong message that such behaviors will not be condoned, even in regions where sports gambling has been legalized, but recognizes a sliding scale and flexibility is appropriate.

The NCAA acknowledges the potential for personal growth and learning from mistakes. Thus, the guidelines also implement reinstatement policies for less serious gambling activities. To become eligible for reinstatement, athletes subjected to penalties will have to complete an educational program on sports wagering rules and prevention. 

Ultimately, the new NCAA guidelines are designed to keep up with the times while upholding the values that make collegiate sports an integral part of the American sporting landscape. As sports wagering continues to evolve, colleges and students should adhere to and become familiar with these new guidelines.

Jackson Lewis’ Sports industry group provides training sessions for college coaches and student-athletes on sports wagering and other issues and advises university athletics departments concerning rules violations and infractions matters.

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Photo of Benjamin A. Tulis Benjamin A. Tulis

Benjamin Tulis is a principal in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on advice and counsel within the labor and employment law sector. Ben is a member of the California Advice and Counsel resource group.

Ben counsels…

Benjamin Tulis is a principal in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on advice and counsel within the labor and employment law sector. Ben is a member of the California Advice and Counsel resource group.

Ben counsels employers on a host of employment issues, including wage and hour laws, leaves of absence, employment-related agreements, incentive plans, independent contractor classifications, exempt/non-exempt classifications, company policies, reductions in force, workplace investigations, employee discipline, litigation avoidance and helping employers address legal developments on the fly as they arise. Ben assists employers with a wide variety of employment-related agreements, including but not limited to employment agreements, confidentiality agreements, commission agreements, incentive plans, contractor agreements, severance agreements, arbitration agreements and various other agreements with employees and third parties. Ben helps employers develop incentive arrangements, including commission arrangements with industry-specific compliance issues.