College admissions bribery case should kill sports betting bill

Two bills on sports betting, House File 648 and Senate File 366, made it through the legislature’s first “funnel.” John Morrissey wonders, “What assurance do any of us have that the colleges and universities can police themselves in light of today’s revelations?” -promoted by Laura Belin

The Associated Press is reporting today that 50 people, including several television celebrities, have been charged in connection with a scheme to get their children accepted to college athletic teams after offering bribes to college coaches and other collegiate insiders.

While not directly on point, this is very concerning in light of the state legislature’s apparent desire to legalize sports betting in Iowa casinos, not to mention the extremely arrogant position taken by Prairie Meadows to construct a facility before the enabling legislation was even introduced.

As you might be able to discern, I oppose any further expansion of gambling in our state. We can’t turn back the clock, but I find the entire legalized gambling industry in Iowa to be morally repugnant.

Today’s story appears to describe an inability by college officials to police themselves and prevent entanglements in activities that are clearly illegal. How can legislators vote to allow gambling in Iowa on collegiate athletics in the face of today’s outrage? If colleges cannot keep their coaches and other officials from accepting bribes from parents to get their kids into these athletic programs, what assurance does the public have that these same officials, (let alone the unpaid collegiate athletes), can resist the temptation by bad actors out there to influence their contests?

And what assurance do any of us have that the colleges and universities can police themselves in light of today’s revelations? If there were ever an inescapable indictment of the NCAA, this is it!

I have asked my state representative and state sentator to vote no on all bills that might come before the legislature this session that would legalize sports betting until the dust settles on this matter. It’s my hope that my elected representatives in both chambers will let their colleagues know of this concern and convince them that this year is not the time to take up this ill-advised legislation.

Top image: Artwork by John Morrissey, used with permission.

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John Morrissey