Purdue Prohibits Sports Betting By Faculty, Staff, Students, Contractors

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Boilermakers first with big-time college football to enact such a plan

Purdue University on Friday became the first public university in the nation to pass a new policy prohibiting sports betting on the Boilermakers by anyone employed by or being educated at the university, including faculty, staff, students, and third-party contractors. The new policy goes into effect immediately and means that anyone covered by the policy would be in violation by placing a bet on Saturday’s Purdue-Iowa Big 10 football game, or any other university sporting event in the future.

The policy is in response to the desire by faculty and staff to protect Purdue athletes from the possible side effects of sports betting. Indiana legalized sports betting in May and went live with sports betting, both in-person and mobile, in September ahead of the NFL season.

According to Cheryl Cooky, an associate professor at Purdue and chairperson of the University Senate, said faculty members expressed concern about legal sports betting in Indiana and how it would affect Purdue student-athletes at a meeting earlier this year. From there, she said, the idea that the university should prohibit sports betting in order to better protect its athletes coalesced quickly.

Purdue third to ban betting on university sports

“This really came about essentially through a subcommittee of the Senate. A faculty member brought it as part of a larger conversation,” Cooky said prior to the decision. “The faculty member raised some concerns about our ability as faculty to really be able to educate, mentor, and advise our students and conversely for a student athlete to feel like they can fully trust in the academic spaces that they move in.”

Purdue becomes the first public university to seriously consider or enact an on-campus sports betting ban. It’s also the first university with a big-time college football team to take such action. Villanova, whose basketball team won the NCAA tournament twice in the last four years (2016, 2018) and St. Joseph’s, both Pennsylvania private schools connected to the Roman Catholic order, have enacted similar policies. Villanova did so in November of last year and St. Joseph’s did so earlier this year.

“It’s mainly in response to passage of the state law, and to make sure we had a policy in place that affected the entire university,” Peter Baran, Villanova athletics director of compliance, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Pennsylvania legalized sports betting in October 2017, and the first retail sportsbook opened there in November 2018. There are now eight physical sportsbooks and five mobile sportsbooks open in the state.

Tough penalties

At Purdue, the university’s Executive Policy Review Group passed the new policy Friday morning, about a week after a resolution was put forth by the Board of Trustees. Under the new policy, an employee who places a sports bet will be subject to penalties, which could include termination. Contractors who break the policy will be terminated, and students who break it will be “subject to appropriate discipline.”

Though sports betting stakeholders may see these bans as contradictory to their mission — to stamp out black market sports betting — the universities’ priority is protecting their students.

From Purdue’s new policy:

When all faculty, staff, students and independent contractors refrain from placing Sports Wagers on Purdue and its student-athletes and coaches, we, as a community: (i) reduce the potential for deceit and ill-gotten gain, (ii) demonstrate respect and support for our student-athletes and lessen the potential for any of them to feel compromised, self-conscious or inhibited in the ordinary course of their activities as students or athletes, and (iii) protect members of the University community from any inference of profiteering from inside information, exercising undue influence or other improper conduct.

The Boilermakers play at Iowa Saturday, one of more than a dozen states that also have live, legal sports betting. The NCAA already prohibits student-athletes, coaches, and some staff from placing sports wagers.