With news Monday of the Supreme Court’s ruling that essentially allows gambling on sports across the nation, Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles had one concern.
“I hope they don’t have a window in Pinnacle Bank Arena betting on when Coach Miles gets his next technical (or) the over-under on how quick he takes off his jacket,” Miles said.
Of course, he was joking.
But the future of how the ruling will affect college sports was a topic of discussion Monday at the Big Ten coaches and athletic directors annual meeting in Rosemont.
The court struck down a federal law that barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states. Six states already have passed legislation legalizing sports wagering: Connecticut, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Illinois has proposed legislation that would allow sports gambling.
Big Ten basketball coaches and athletic directors who met with reporters after their meetings at the conference headquarters were cautious about how the ruling could affect college sports.
“I’m in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to any sports gambling in states that choose to permit it,” Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said. “The integrity of college sports remains our highest priority.”
Phillips said he would like to see college sports treated differently than professional sports when it comes to betting.
“Would I have been in favor of it?” he said. “No. But the Supreme Court has decided.”
Basketball coaches said they still need to study the potential ramifications of the ruling and address it with their teams.
“As we go into this unchartered territory, we’ll have to be even more vigilant,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “It’s a little closer now as more states pick it up.”
Big Ten coaches and athletic directors said they couldn’t speculate on whether lawful gambling would draw more attention to college basketball during the regular season. One of the most popular weekends in Las Vegas is the first weekend of the NCAA tournament as tourists flock to gamble at sportsbooks.
“Would it increase eyes of viewership and attendance at games?” Phillips said. “I don’t know if I could make that correlation.”
Said Miles: “How can it enhance the interest in our game? I’m not sure. I’m not really a gambler. It is something we have to consider with more people doing it. We’ll have to educate our players and make sure the integrity of our game isn’t compromised in any way, shape or form.”
Phillips said the state’s financial troubles would likely make Illinois legalize sports gambling as a way to generate revenue.
“We’ve watched what they’ve done with the lottery here in the state and the kind of revenue streams,” he said. “If I were to look into my crystal ball, I would think this state would eventually pass that (considering) the pension disaster in the state and the needs for additional funding.
“There has to be a process,” he added. “It has to be done in certain spaces. There has to be checks and balances to who’s betting and how they’re betting and the ways they’re betting just like there is in states that do (already) allow gambling.”