Decision makers in collegiate athletics are preparing for a world where sports betting is legal and regulated.
Legalized sports betting will affect different sports in different ways. One aspect of college football that will likely change is the way injuries are reported.
Many programs are cagey — some more than others — about revealing player injury information. Unlike the NFL, where it is mandatory to disclose injuries, college football programs don’t have to tell anybody which players may or may not be able to suit up for a given game.
Coaches often lean on student privacy laws when explaining — justifying, really — why they won’t divulge the status of a player’s health. But, above all else, it’s a competitive advantage. If your team’s starting quarterback got hurt in practice and you don’t have to disclose that information to the public (including your opponent, obviously), then why do it?
But if you were betting on that game, you certainly would want to know that information. That’s why, as states begin instituting regulations, they could actually require schools to release injury lists just like professional leagues.
That’s the word from this week’s SEC spring meetings, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd:
The gambling community doesn’t embrace disinformation. There is already speculation that state gaming commissions could require college coaches to provide accurate injury information. That’s basically how the NFL injury report evolved — as a check and balance to insure betting integrity. That can make even the most mundane NFL matchup worthy of betting interest. Unlike college, the injury reporting routine is uniform in the NFL.
Coaches probably wouldn’t like it, but from a betting perspective, that change would pretty clearly be for the best. The availability of a single player could have a dramatic impact on the point spread for a game.
For example, if you learned that a team’s star quarterback was injured during practice and that information somehow evaded the public eye, including the mythical Vegas oddsmakers, you would have an advantage. If that team, with its star QB expected to play, is a four-point favorite, you would be inclined to make a pretty big bet on the other team. If the oddsmakers knew the team’s starting quarterback was not playing, the spread would be different and much more difficult to bet on.
The availability of that injury information would be a pretty big change from what we’re used to in college football. If the school does not put out an injury list and the coach does not answer the questions of reporters, it becomes a guessing game.
“In the college game, the closest thing you can do [to get accurate information] is follow either local media and/or the school website itself,” SportsLine’s Josh Nagel told Dodd. “Then you kind of make up your mind.”
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