University of Richmond Student-Athletes Suspended for Wagering Reinstated

The University of Richmond announced that it will reinstate the five baseball players who were suspended this season for potential NCAA violations, as it now appears that the players wagered on sports games—not fantasy sports—as initially reported.

NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from engaging in any “sports wagering activities or provid[ing] information to individuals involved or associated with any types of sports wagering activities.”  This may include “internet sports wagering” and pay-to-play “fantasy leagues.”

Student-athletes found in violation of these rules are ineligible from playing time for at least one year from the date the violation occurred, or a minimum of one season, according to the NCAA Division I Handbook.

In the present case, the University did not specify the exact wrongs allegedly committed by the players.  Simply, it said that the suspensions related to NCAA student-athlete eligibility rule violations, which occurred prior to the 2017 season.  Last month, reports surfaced that the suspensions were for participation in fantasy sports.

However, the NCAA shed light on the matter shortly after, stating that the suspensions were not related to “fantasy sports,” but rather were for alleged “sports betting.”  An NCAA spokesman stated that “[a]ccording to the facts. . . the four baseball student-athletes wagered money on sporting events using gambling websites. . . [c]ontrary to previous media reports, these cases did not include fantasy sports wagering.”

Keith Gill, University of Richmond Athletic Director, stated that “[w]e appreciate the efforts of our compliance department and NCAA staff in getting this matter resolved. . . [w]e will continue to work with the NCAA and our compliance staff to identify strategies for our student-athletes to avoid future NCAA rules violations.”

This season, four of the five were reinstated, and thus, eligible for the University’s first home game on April 7, 2017.  The fifth player will be eligible to play prior to the 2018 season.

Notably, only last year, Virginia legalized pay-to-play fantasy sports contests—allowing even the more controversial daily fantasy sports.  However, as it appears here, the student-athletes allegedly engaged in some other form of wagering.

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