NCAA OKs Sports Gambling Data Deals for Colleges, Conferences

The NCAA will allow individual schools and conferences to sign lucrative deals with data companies that sell information to sportsbooks.

Published May 9, 2022

Edited by Alex Pasquariello
NCAA OKs Sports Gambling Data Deals for Colleges, Conferences
College Sports

  • Sports betting, or any association with it, was once strictly forbidden by the NCAA.
  • Now, a memo interpreting existing rules allows the sale of data that could be used in sports betting.
  • Only data that is available to the general public can be sold, according to the NCAA.

NCAA Division I Colleges and conferences are looking to get a piece of America's booming sports betting industry by monetizing one of their most valuable assets: data.

The NCAA Division I Interpretations Committee last week issued a memo clearing member schools and conferences to sell sports statistics to companies that then analyze and sell data to sportsbooks.

"An individual, school, or conference may provide competition statistics to sports wagering companies only if the statistics are available to the general public," Saquandra Heath, the NCAA's Associate Director of Communications, told BestColleges in an email. "It is prohibited for individuals, schools, or conferences to provide such information that is not publicly available."

The April 27 memo clarified Section 10.3 of the NCAA's Division I Manual. The manual states that college athletic department staff members, non-athletic department staff members who have responsibilities within or over the athletics department (presidents, chancellors, etc.), conference officials, and student athletes "shall not knowingly participate in sports wagering activities or provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition."

“There is speculation that the revenue generated by conferences selling their statistics to betting sportsbooks could someday become almost as important as the revenue provided selling media rights”

But in its take, the Interpretations Committee determined that the policy does not preclude an individual, institution, or conference from providing information for sports wagering that is available to the general public. The only restriction, the committee said, is that "it is not permissible to provide information that is not available to the general public."

The lid on college sports betting had already been blown off in March when the Mid-American Conference signed a statistical data partnership and sponsoring agreement with London-based Genius Sports. The five-year agreement was a first for an NCAA conference and gave Genius the rights to manage and market the stats for all sports in the conference.

Just a week later, the Pac-12 Conference announced what it called "the first-ever, all-encompassing data technology partnership in collegiate athletics" with Tempus Ex Machina, a technology, data and media company.

"The multi-year partnership will see Tempus Ex deploy its proprietary technology to package and fully maximize the value of Pac-12 data rights by exclusively selecting, managing, and overseeing all data, statistics, and player-tracking providers, as well as data sellers for the conference," the Pac-12 said in its announcement of the deal.

“Sports betting nationwide reached $57.22 billion in handle (the amount of money wagered by all bettors) and $4.29 billion in revenue in 2021”

Now there is speculation that the revenue generated by conferences selling their statistics to betting sportsbooks could someday become almost as important as the revenue provided selling media rights.

"There's a big push to try to standardize these things, but they just haven't happened yet," said Matthew Holt, president of U.S. Integrity, told the Sports Business Journal. U.S. Integrity works with a variety of organizations to ensure sports betting integrity.

"The one thing that there's unanimous agreement on is that if someone could take this huge, fractured, massive asset of 128 Division I college football teams or 352 Division I college basketball teams and unify that asset, then it is the most valuable (sports betting data) asset in the United States. It dwarfs the professional leagues. … How do we get there? Easier said than done," Holt added.

Legal sports betting in the U.S. has been growing at a rapid rate ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal bans on the industry's expansion in 2018. Now, sports betting is legal in 30 states and Washington, D.C., according to the American Gaming Association.

The growth in betting has been spectacular. Sports betting nationwide reached $57.22 billion in handle (the amount of money wagered by all bettors) and $4.29 billion in revenue in 2021 — jumps of 165% and 177% over 2020 respectively, reported the American Gaming Association.