University of Pittsburgh’s Athletic Director, Heather Lyke is continuing her personal crusade against sports wagering on college sports. As we reported in August, Lyke began her to make her stance known at a Senate Hearing at that time, that not only was it her opinion to be opposed to gambling on college sports, but it was also an opinion shared by many of her colleagues.
The University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director has recently reasserted her view and is apparently cranking up the pressure to end NCAA sports betting in Pennsylvania and other legal sports wagering states. Lyke was speaking in her role as an invited panelist to the webinar ‘LEAD1 Forum: A Whole New Ballgame: Implications of Legalized Sports Betting for College Athletics’ where she has doubled down on her previous anti-college sports betting remarks.
What is the problem with betting on College Sports?
To be fair, Heather Lyke is not alone in her stance against college sports. As we all know, betting on college sports including NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball is big business and raises plenty of money for state services and infrastructure in those states that have adopted the practice.
However, a number of factors have conspired to come into play as possible reasons that Athletic Director Lyke and some of her colleagues representing other colleges nationwide aren’t fans of legal sports wagering.
- Reason #1 – College Student Athletes do not receive payment and could be subject to match-fixing and spot-fixing to influence betting outcomes for cash and other payments and incentives.
- Reason #2 – The United States is the only country on the planet where college or University student athletes play before enormous crowds and are, in many cases, household names. Those students attend classes like any other student and do not have security details, minders, managers and other forms of protection from the public like many professional athletes do.
- Reason #3 – State-by-state college sports betting laws vary significantly. For example, in neighboring New Jersey, it is not legally possible to bet on the Garden State’s in-state college teams like Seton Hall, Princeton or Rutgers. Meanwhile, here in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, no legal issues exist for placing wagers on in-state college teams like Lyke’s University of Pittsburgh, Temple and Penn State.
Lyke Rallies For Anti-College Sports Betting Support
During the recent LEAD1 Forum, Lyke said that her experience testifying before the Senate Hearing in Washington D.C. gave her a chance to express the everyday implications of decision-making when there are still a multitude of conflicting and contradictory state laws in place across the nation;
“It’s challenging for us to enforce and send the right message. This is something else we worry about at night.” Ms Lyke pointed out.
She argued that drawing a distinction between professional and college sports was necessary to protect young, impressionable, and sometimes cash-strapped college student athletes;
“It’s important to draw the distinction between professional and college sports. The decisions we make about 18 to 22-year-olds impact the lives of other peoples’ children. They are still kids and they still easily influenced. There is much less susceptibility to financial temptation for professional athletes. They are at a different compensation level.”
Extending out the meaning of Lyke’s words, it could even be argued that protecting student athletes may also benefit sports bettors by securing the integrity of the outcomes of college sporting matches.
Clearly then, the University of Pittsburgh is not about to sign a deal with an online sportsbook as the University of Colorado recently did with PointsBet.
However, that only underlines that black and white college sports betting laws will not work in the long term. Sports betting is here to stay and colleges will need to find a way to work with the industry to produce positive outcomes for all.