College football is no stranger to investigations into illegal betting. While few of the cases threaten the veracity of most football matches, game fixing can be very problematic especially to a fledgling football player’s career.
College footballers are very vulnerable to illegal betting as many fixers are experts on identifying pressure points. A little bit of a nudge using money, a favor, or a threat can undeniably manipulate a student’s performance.
Justin Wolfers, a professor of business from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, studied over 44,000 NCAA division games and point spreads from 1989 to 2005. In his study’s conclusion, he asserted that about 500 games have been involved in gambling-related fraud and at least 6% of favored teams were willing to have their performance manipulated.
“It’s very difficult to say how common it is because you don’t know how many people are doing it and not getting caught,” said the director of the University of Nevada’s Center for Gaming Research.
An NCAA survey in 2008 revealed that 30% in about 20,000 college athletes have admitted to betting at least once on college sports, which is a direct violation of NCAA rules. College athletes cannot in any way bet via land-based and online sports books. Betfair, one of the biggest book keepers in the UK, reminds their patrons of its Terms and Conditions page that “Participation in the games (must be) personal and not professional.” Thus, betting should not be intertwined with one’s career.
Further studies revealed that about 1% of the surveyed Division 1 football players in 2012 admitted that they’ve accepted money and/or favors as compensation for performing poorly. About 6% of male athletes have been classified by the NCAA as regular bettors, and the bulk of their gambling money has been obtained through illegal activities. Some athletes also confessed that they knew teammates who accepted bribes but were too afraid to tell the authorities. Data collected by Havoc Scope details that about $60 – $70 billion per year is obtained from illegal betting on college football.
The problem with fixing games is that some players get abused. Because they’ve accepted bribes, these players can be threatened with blackmails at any time even if they don’t want to participate in fixing games anymore. The NCAA, according to experts, must show a stronger hand against illegal betting and game fixers in order to make college games cleaner and safer for the athletes.