The Board of Trustees created a rift in student opinion Thursday after approving a new sports wagering policy, which plans to ban students, faculty and staff from wagering on any Purdue sporting events and ones involving Purdue athletes or coaches.
“Purdue seeks to operate with the greatest integrity and fair play in athletic competition,” said Vice President for Ethics and Compliance, Alysa Rollock.
“The policy was developed at the urging of some faculty members, as well as the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics,” Purdue news said in a press release.
While the statement did not confirm the identities of said faculty members, it seems that this action had a firm backing from at least some staff members.
Some students are divided on the matter.
“I think you should be able to bet on whatever you want to bet on,” said Brendon Gorham, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts.
Gorham, who has recently gotten interested in sports gambling, says he has not bet on Purdue sports before, but most likely would have in the near future if not for the passing of this new policy.
“I don’t see any harm in doing it as long as it doesn’t affect the players,” Gorham said. “Personally, I’m OK with betting on anything, as long as it’s not affecting anyone except myself and the person I’m betting with.”
Although Gorham’s betting might not directly affect the players financially, an ethical argument the Board has mentioned in past statements is that betting on college sports results in the exploitation of student-athletes.
“College is different because college students aren’t necessarily getting paid,” said Gavin Carter, a sophomore in the college of aeronautics and astronautics. “We share a connection with out student athletes that probably isn’t shared in a lot of professional sports. Some of us have classes with our student athletes. Of course you have a conflict of interest, but then you could actually bring it to that athlete’s face.”
Carter, who has never participated in sports-gambling, recognizes the significance of betting in the sports world, but sees a moral divide between professional and collegiate sports.
IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology sophomore Joey Rodgers echoed that sentiment. Rodgers argued that wagering on the performance of student-athletes could potentially lead to negative confrontation from other students.
“It’s supposed to be a game,” Rodgers said. “They’re not being paid. They’re doing it either for scholarships or the fun of the game, so why should we put undue pressure on them?
According to the statement from the Board of Trustees, “sanctioning guidelines” have not yet been developed for punishing gamblers, but faculty and staff members may face punishment “up to and including termination.”
While disciplinary measures are still being developed, the policy leaves many questioning the ability of the University to enforce this ambitious new rule.
“When I heard about the rule,” Gorham said, “I thought: ‘how are you going to actually implement this rule? How are you gonna regulate that?’”
Rollock does not see any potential obstacles in enforcing the rule.
“Integrity is often demonstrated by doing the right thing when no one is watching, Rollock said. “We are confident that members of the University community will act with integrity even if wagering in violation of the policy could go undetected”
One way the university could control the issue is by blocking access to popular sports gambling websites on campus.
“The only way that they’d be able to regulate anything would have to be online,” Gorham said, “but there are so many sites, and so many ways to do it online, it’d be difficult.”
While eliminating small-time betting between peers may prove difficult, Carter believes cracking down on “organized betting” would be a benefit to the university.
“Ultimately you’re not gonna be able to stop under-the-table betting just between friends, but I feel like if you cut down on organized betting, you can definitely greatly diminish that on campus,” Carter said. “By getting rid of organized betting, it’s definitely gonna have an effect, but I don’t think it’s gonna totally eliminate student betting.”
According to the Board of Trustees, the policy will go into effect after it is reviewed and published by Purdue’s Executive Policy Review Group.