The NCAA has launched its first sports wagering e-learning module, designed to further educate more than 500,000 current and prospective student-athletes on problem gambling's harms and the risks sports wagering poses to the integrity of their games.
After receiving feedback from student-athletes and campus leaders, the NCAA engaged former college athletes, including an NFL player, to better connect with current student-athletes. Topics covered also include NCAA rules and social media harassment.
"One of the first things I did when I took over as NCAA president was gather as much information as possible about sports betting on college campuses. This educational resource is directly informed by that data. We believe this new program will help protect student-athletes from the risks that come with sports wagering," NCAA President Charlie Baker said. "The data is clear that athletes with firsthand experiences connect with current student-athletes better than any other material we could develop, so we are incredibly grateful for their participation in this effort."
Last month, the NCAA released the findings of a campus compliance directors survey on sports wagering issues they experience. Baker commissioned the survey to gain a deeper understanding of the education that compliance officers are providing at their campuses and how the NCAA could best support schools with enhanced educational initiatives, resources and tools.
Before the compliance survey, Baker also commissioned a survey of 18- to 22-year-olds to better understand the prevalence of various sports wagering behaviors and attitudes among the peers of student-athletes. That survey found pervasive sports wagering activity within the targeted age population, with 58% having engaged in at least one sports betting activity. The survey also found that problem gambling exists in this population, with 16% having engaged in at least one risky behavior and 6% reporting that they have lost more than $500 on sports betting in a single day.
Both surveys were instrumental in the e-learning module development process and helped the national office identify key areas of focus to incorporate and emphasize.
"This is one piece of an ongoing plan to provide continuous education and resources for student-athletes, prospective student-athletes, parents, coaches and administrators," said Clint Hangebrauck, NCAA managing director of enterprise risk management. "We are very appreciative of industry experts such as the National Council of Problem Gambling, EPIC Risk Management and Dr. Jeff Derevensky for their contributions to this learning. This will assist members in supplementing other education programming such as the programming EPIC Risk Management has provided to more than 20,000 student-athletes, coaches and administrators."
The module is a free, interactive tool that immerses the learner in an educational experience with helpful information, scenarios, Q&As and resources, all delivered by former student-athletes, for student-athletes.
Zaire Franklin, Indianapolis Colts NFL linebacker and former Syracuse football student-athlete and finance/marketing management graduate, kicks off the learning experience, followed by Mikala Hall, who played basketball and earned a Master of Business Administration from Central Michigan, and Joshua Butler, who played football and earned an MBA from Sioux Falls.
"Sports wagering has exploded in our society, and it is extremely important for athletes — at all levels — to receive thorough education on the rules and risks of sports betting to help protect themselves, their team, sport, mental health, finances and future," Franklin said.
Currently, the NCAA is conducting a national survey of student-athlete sports wagering attitudes and behaviors. The Association continues to work with industry experts, professional leagues such as the NFL, mental health professionals, law enforcement and regulators to combat sports wagering harms through comprehensive education, active monitoring and data-driven research.
The NCAA also recently launched an effort to update state sports betting laws to combat student-athlete harassment associated with sports betting.