Former Maryland congressman and basketball star Tom McMillen is urging Gov. Larry Hogan and legislative leaders “to take all necessary steps” to avoid a college athletics betting scandal if the state legalizes gambling on football, basketball and other sports.
McMillen recently wrote letters to Hogan, Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch and state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, saying college athletes “are vulnerable to outside gambling influences” and the state must ensure that schools have the resources to safeguard against scandals.
“There is a 100 percent chance that there will be a major gambling scandal at an institution of higher education in the United States in the future,” McMillen said. “These kids are in a very vulnerable spot. You have one major scandal and it will be an enormous good-will loss for these schools.”
Maryland General Assembly leaders are considering a fast-track proposal under which lawmakers would legalize sports betting without seeking voter approval in a referendum.
A voter-approved referendum was long considered a precursor for Maryland to join surrounding states, such as Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey, which have started offering sports wagering since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban in May. The District of Columbia is in the process of establishing sports betting; the D.C. Council approved it in December.
Busch in particular has been vocal about the potential benefits of sports betting, which he said include making Maryland casinos more competitive with those in surrounding states. Busch, a sports fan who played football at Temple University, had not yet seen McMillen’s letter and had no comment, a spokeswoman said.
Former Terps center Tom McMillen will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame's class of 2013, the Maryland athletic department announced Tuesday.
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McMillen is not asking lawmakers or the governor to oppose legalized sports betting. Rather, he said he wants to ensure funding is offered to help colleges can ensure the integrity of their sports programs. He said that nearly 80 percent of the athletic directors he represents are opposed to betting on college sports — partly because of concerns about scandals.
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LEAD1 has suggested that schools educate their campus communities about gambling rules, and that college coaches reinforce university and NCAA rules against student-athlete involvement in sports wagering.
The Super Bowl and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — known as “March Madness” — are two of the most popular sporting events for bettors.