NCAA Declines to Implement Injury Reports for Upcoming College Football Season

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 7, 2019

The College Football Championship Playoff logo is shown on the field at AT&T Stadium during the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

The NCAA's Board of Governors (h/t ESPN News Services) revealed that the organization has decided against implementing player availability reports in light of sports betting's increasing legalization around the United States.

An ad hoc committee on sports wagering released its conclusions.

"The ad hoc committee gathered thorough feedback from conference commissioners, athletics administrators, athletic trainers and student-athletes across all three divisions about potential player availability reporting," chair of the Board of Governors and president of The Ohio State University Michael V. Drake stated.

"The membership has significant concerns about the purpose, parameters, enforcement and effectiveness of a player availability reporting model."

The ESPN News Services report, which received contributions from ESPN's Dan Murphy and the Associated Press, noted that the idea was designated for college football.

"The idea to create a standardized injury report, similar to what currently exists in the NFL, came from concern that legalized gambling might provide more temptation for bettors to seek injury information from athletes or other team personnel," the ESPN report read.

Per Ryan Rodenburg of ESPN.com, 10 states have fully legalized sports betting. Rodenburg also noted that any state can choose to do the same.

Writing for Legal Sports Report, John Holden decried the lack of NCAA injury reports in the wake of sports betting's rise.

"Indeed, it seems much of the opposition to the timely release of standardized injury information is driven by antiquated coaching philosophies and gamesmanship. But these strategies around concealing injuries creates a market for inside information, and threatens the integrity of both the underlying sporting event and the betting markets.

"Whether the NCAA likes it or not, sports betting is expanding. At some point they are going to have to be proactive in getting with the times and taking steps to protect against a scandal by doing little things like releasing NCAA injury reports, or face the backlash to their already tarnished reputation that would come with an insider information scandal."

Holden's claim that sports betting is expanding is accurate: Per Danny Donahue of The Action Network, bettors wagered $1.8 billion on college and pro football at Nevada sportsbooks alone in 2018.

That marked topped the record $1.75 billion at state sportsbooks the previous year, according to David Payne Purdum of ESPN.com.

The lack of injury reports could open the door to a scandal down the road. On the flip side, NCAA program coaches have no incentive to release injury reports for competitive reasons. They also have laws to back them.

"Since college athletes are students and not employees like professional athletes, schools and coaches can cite federal privacy laws when withholding information about player injuries," Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports wrote. "Some programs are extremely tight-lipped when it comes to revealing injury or availability information simply because they can."

As seen in the NFL, coaches routinely engage in gamesmanship for mandatory injury reports to gain an edge. Chances are collegiate coaches wouldn't exactly be jumping to provide clarity to bettors and fans.

The 2019 Division I-FBS season begins Saturday, Aug. 24, when Miami plays Florida at 7 p.m. ET.

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