Big 12 Commissioner on sports gambling: Still in ‘wait-and-see’ mode

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) is presented with the Big 12 Tournament MVP trophy by commissioner Bob Bowlsby following the Jayhawks' win, March 10, 2018.

Bob Bowlsby wasn’t quite prepared for some of the questions he received during a news conference Monday at Big 12 Media Days in Frisco, Texas.

Among the first questions directed at the Big 12 commissioner were those revolving around legalized sports gambling, a topic he said he had not expected to talk about.

“I didn’t have that in my notes, largely because I didn’t have anything intelligent to say about it,” Bowlsby admitted to reporters. “I think we’re very much in a wait-and-see environment right now.”

Bowlsby believes it is too soon for that discussion due to the unknown of sports gambling, and how it might impact the Big 12 conference.

“There’s a lot of talk about integrity fees,” Bowlsby said. “There is a lot of talk about how it gets managed. Are we really going to end up with 50 states that all have different laws on legalized gambling?”

Bowlsby said the league currently has a consulting group that helps look at betting lines, alerting them when lines move abruptly and when there is an unusual amount of money placed on a particular game.

In addition, Bowlsby believes that there will be a demand for injury reports during game weeks with legalized sports gambling vastly approaching. As of right now, the conference doesn’t force coaches to release that info.

“We haven’t chosen to do it because we want to get some answers relative to the student records,” Bowlsby said. “My sense is that there’s going to be a human cry for that to happen, and as long as we don’t get too far into the specifics of what the injury is and what kind of medication they may be taking, some sort of simple system may work.”

Alcohol sales at stadiums

One week ago, Oklahoma State announced it would begin selling alcohol at football games at Boone Pickens Stadium this fall. The university joins Texas and West Virginia as the only Big 12 schools where fans can purchase a beer throughout the stadium.

Bowlsby admitted that the league doesn’t have a strong opinion on whether teams should sell alcohol to fans at games.

“The conference really doesn’t have a dog in the fight on it,” Bowlsby said. “I think institutions are left to their own discretion. From a personal standpoint, I do think that selling alcohol in the stadium is probably superior to having pass-outs at halftime where everybody goes out and power drinks for the length of the halftime.”

One and done

Earlier this month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver suggested that the league may change its rule of restricting players from entering the NBA Draft out of high school. The rule, which has been in place since 2006, has been a controversial issue at the collegiate level.

“Those that come to college should plan to pursue their education and, you know, they may leave before they’re done,” Bowlsby said. “I think it makes a travesty of higher education to have a young person enroll in school in August and play until March and leave before. It isn’t even one and done, it’s seven months and done.”


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