In the ongoing effort to combat the rising concern of sports betting among student-athletes, the Big Ten Conference is taking a proactive stance. By entering into a strategic partnership with US Integrity (USI), it aims to address the challenges posed by sports wagering within the collegiate sports landscape.
Enhancing monitoring efforts
The Big Ten Conference, renowned for its commitment to upholding the integrity of collegiate athletics, is now intensifying its monitoring efforts. The primary objective is to prevent student-athletes, coaches, and staff from engaging in prohibited sports betting activities. Additionally, the conference has introduced an innovative approach for the 2023 football season – the gameday student-athlete availability report.
A broader issue: illegal sports betting among student-athletes
Illegal sports betting within collegiate athletics has gained prominence as a pressing issue. The Big Ten’s proactive stance reflects the growing awareness of the problem within the industry and promotes the idea of betting online through legal and reputed mediums. Notably, it is not alone in its endeavors, as the Big 12 Conference has also adopted monitoring software and tools to curb illicit sports betting activities.
A notable incident
This heightened vigilance follows a significant incident earlier this year when 15 student-athletes and two student managers affiliated with Iowa college athletics were charged. Their charges were in connection with an investigation into unlawful sports betting. Among the accused was Iowa State’s starting quarterback, Hunter Dekkers, who faced allegations of placing approximately 366 wagers.
Of concern, 297 of these wagers were made before he reached the legal age for such activities. Dekkers also raised eyebrows by placing 26 bets on Iowa State sporting events.
A Commitment to Integrity
In response to these challenges, Commissioner Tony Petitti, in a statement included in a Big Ten press release, emphasized the importance of the well-being of students, coaches, and staff, as well as the integrity of athletic competitions.
US Integrity’s role
US Integrity plays a pivotal role in this initiative, employing advanced analytics and data analysis to scrutinize numerous data sets. Its primary objective is to identify irregular contest-level, officiating, and wagering patterns. This sophisticated approach enables the identification and investigation of any suspicious activities related to sports betting.
The gameday student-athlete availability report
A notable feature of the Big Ten’s strategy is the introduction of the gameday student-athlete availability report. This innovative system is designed along the lines of the National Football League’s reporting system. Before scheduled kickoff times, Big Ten member institutions will communicate to the conference which players will or will not participate in that day’s game. This timely reporting mechanism enhances transparency.