Proposedgambling ban may reach U

Sarah McKenzie

A national commission appointed to study the impact of gambling made a series of recommendations to Congress on Friday, including a proposal for a nationwide ban on college sports betting.
Additionally, the 200-page report issued by The National Gambling Impact Study Commission recommends that federal legislators raise the minimum gambling age to 21 nationally and enact stronger penalties for underage gambling.
Officials from the National Collegiate Athletic Association have said they support the commission’s findings and the proposed ban.
Chris Schoemann, director of the University’s Office of Athletic Compliance, said he would also welcome the prohibition of college sports betting and other efforts to stamp out gambling on college campuses.
“If there was a ban, it would certainly help with part of the problem,” Schoemann said. “Given the recent scandals, we are in an extremely volatile climate related to gambling and college sports.”
However, pinpointing illegal sports gambling on campus is a difficult task, Schoemann added.
“We do everything in our power to relay information about the problem to our student-athletes,” Schoemann said.
For instance, a basketball player from Northwestern University and one other individual involved in a point-shaving scandal at the college spoke with University athletes in the fall about the pervasiveness of gambling addictions.
Schoemann said the Northwestern player told a “moving and powerful” story about the dangers of becoming involved in a betting scheme. Seven former players and four other individuals were indicted last year for participating in the point-shaving scandal.
Recent surveys have suggested that college sports gambling is a common occurrence on most campuses.
A University of Michigan study released in January found that 72 percent of the 750 student-athletes surveyed gambled in some form during their college career. The study also determined that 5 percent of the athletes admitted providing inside information on their team in exchange for money.
Schoemann said it is difficult to determine if gambling is as widespread at the University as those figures indicate.
The college gaming issue surfaced at the University last month when the state attorney general’s office charged a member of the men’s basketball booster club with sports bookmaking.
Gerald Greenfield, 53, of Bloomington, plead not guilty to one count of felony sports bookmaking in Hennepin County District Court on May 26. He allegedly took bets on basketball games involving Tulane University and the University of Arkansas.
Greenfield, a Golden Dunkers booster club member, vehemently denied the charges, calling them a “knee-jerk” reaction to the investigation of the men’s basketball program.
He is scheduled to appear in court again in three weeks.
A task force appointed in May to address booster club activity reported findings to University President Mark Yudof on June 7. The report makes reference to the college sports gambling issue.
Marvin Borman, a Minneapolis attorney and member of the booster club task force, said the committee has advised University officials to warn booster clubs from gambling on college sporting events.
“(The task force) recommended and approved policies that caution booster clubs from associating with individuals involved in sports bookmaking activities and other illegal activity,” Borman said.
Schoemann said that regulating gambling within the booster clubs is challenging, considering that betting on college games is legal in some states.
However, the commission’s proposed national ban might make that task easier, he said.