The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has now greenlighted for schools and conferences to sign deals with sports betting data companies. The NCAA Division I Interpretations Committee determined Wednesday that an individual, program or entire conference can offer stats to sports betting companies.
The stats can be provided to sports wagering companies as long as that information is also made available to the general public. The move is expected to open the way for programs and conferences to reach juicy, lucrative deals with companies that sell sports data to betting operators.
The decision is a new step in collegiate athletics’ road to opening up to sports betting, once a taboo issue. The NCAA has now further loosened its opposition to gaming through a move set to heavily impact the industry going forward, at a point in which more states legalize gambling on pro sports - and on college games too, in many cases.
It also helps clarify the organization’s take on sports betting, given Section 10.3 of the NCAA’s Division I manual states athletes, university staffers and conference employees may not “provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities.” Many interpreted this would also prevent conferences from signing data distribution deals, which now has been determined not to be the case.
As data provision deals become more prominent, giving pro leagues a way to profit off the betting industry, college athletic conferences have also begun taking notes. In March this year, data and technology provider Genius Sports unveiled a partnership with the Mid-American Conference (MAC) for the exclusive marketing and distribution rights of the MAC’s official data.
MAC Signs Statistical Data Partnership and Sponsorship Deal With Genius Sports.— #MACtion (@MACSports) March 9, 2022
Deal is first of its kind in NCAA and starts the statistical data ownership era for collegiate athletics.
🗒: https://t.co/bIUz4ANu57 | #MACtion pic.twitter.com/m4lKueJrxe
The first-of-its-kind five-year deal permits Genius to “capture, manage and distribute official MAC statistics,” including minute-by-minute data. The NCAA’s new determination would now clear the way for the company to sell said data to sportsbooks.
It is believed that now the NCAA has clarified its sports betting restrictions, conferences will quickly seek to take advantage of the new opportunities opened given the popularity of college sports in the US, which sometimes rivals -and, in some cases, surpasses- that of pro leagues.
Unlike some pro sports leagues, the NCAA has no official sports betting partners. Although a data deal is in place with Genius Sports, the agreement only covers media and leaves out distribution to sportsbooks. However, the association’s continuing nods to sports betting may eventually see this landscape changing, a once-unimaginable scenario.