By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey says the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal law barring gambling on sports could cause the league to require schools to issue weekly reports that list the status of injured or ineligible players.
Speaking to reporters Monday at the start of the league’s annual media gathering, Sankey stressed that gambling’s potential effect on games is one of the most important issues facing the league, but the SEC is unlikely to require weekly reports in 2018.
Sports books often use information on injured or ineligible players to hedge the line.
“FERPA and HIPAA requirements, academic suspensions, other team or athletics department-imposed suspensions and NCAA eligibility issues make something more like an availability report relevant for discussion,” Sankey said Monday. “I do not believe this has to happen before the 2018 season, either on the part of this conference or the national level.
“I expect, however, the change in sports gambling could be and will be likely the impetus for the creation of such reports in our future.”
The Supreme Court ruling in May states that states wanting to take advantage of the ruling can pass legislation to allow sports books to open. Mississippi is the only SEC state currently that will allow sports books to begin taking bets at its 28 licensed casinos — a process that could begin this month. Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina have considered legalizing sports books.
Sankey said the SEC has spoken since 2011 with the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and PGA offices to learn how other leagues are monitoring the issue. The SEC has prioritized its approach to legalized gambling, it will not act hastily.
“That will result from collaboration among the American Football Coach’s Association and its representatives, the conference, the NCAA national office, learning from the professional leagues and with proper guidance from legal resources,” he said. “If this is to happen, we have one opportunity to get it right.”
Appearing at the College Football Hall of Fame, just a few blocks from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sankey used the locale to point out some of SEC’s biggest accomplishments over the last few years.
After playing its championship game for 23 straight years at the Georgia Dome, the league moved to Atlanta’s new marquee site, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and had two teams there in the national title game with Alabama beating Georgia.
It’s nothing new for the league to have one of its schools playing for the game’s biggest prize.
“A team from the SEC has played in 11 of the last 12 national championship games,” Sankey said. “Five different SEC teams have accessed the national championship game. Four different SEC teams have participated in winning nine of the past 12 national titles. It’s the second time, however, since 2011, that two SEC teams have been in the national championship game.”
Fans keep filling up stadiums, too.
“As a conference, we’ve led the nation in football attendance for 19 years,” he said. “The conference’s approach maintains our long-standing rivalries, both within divisions and across divisions where they exist.”
Sankey added that SEC teams played in the five highest-rated college football games on television last year.
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