When things begin to change, they seem to shift at a quickening pace. With the polemic shift in attitudes toward sports gambling in the US, sports leagues and associations began to clear the runway for legalized sports gambling.
The NCAA is the latest to hop aboard the gambling train, officially allowing its conferences to sell their sports data.
From the NCAA to the NFL and even Augusta National, there’s plenty of support for legal sports betting in Georgia. And although for the time being sports betting is illegal in the Peach State, the NCAA selling player data may help to push the needle.
NCAA takes another step toward sports gambling
This will prove lucrative for both the NCAA and its selected data partners, like Genius Sports. What this means is individual conferences are now permitted to sell their accumulated data points from games to these data partners, who, in turn, sell them to sportsbooks.
Two conferences had already tested the waters with these arrangements. The Mid-Atlantic Conference and PAC-12 securing partnerships to monetize player data before the NCAA’s memo.
Perhaps they both correctly read the writing on the wall.
The sportsbook component is not yet authorized. The NCAA’s memo only allows schools and conferences to secure data deals if the information is also publicly available. But the skids have been effectively greased to eventually privatize player data.
The figures that these data companies are paying the MAC and PAC-12 have not been made public. But now that the NCAA has given approval, one can reason that the SEC and Big Ten are positioned to profit greatly.
A lucrative opportunity for the NCAA
So why the motivation to partner with data firms? Well, money talks.
The NCAA is rightfully exploring every revenue stream available. And with the reliable windfalls sports gambling provides, it’s a no-brainer for the association to dip its toe in the water.
The NFL’s data deal with Genius Sports netted it nearly half-a-billion dollars in stock. So the NCAA would be downright foolish to not allow its conferences these partnerships. Especially amid the backdrop of NIL deals and constant sponsorship battles.
When the winds of change are in the air, you better have a working weathervane.
Collegiate sports betting and the path forward
Ultimately, this is a major decision by the NCAA. And a big step toward allowing and normalizing sports gambling on college events. It will be interesting to see which conference is the next to announce a partnership. Perhaps the SEC or ACC will elect to throw their hat in the ring.
Many can plan to make big money on player data partnerships. And if sportsbooks are making money hand-over-fist on player stats regardless, it behooves the NCAA from a business perspective to have a stake. It would be financial malpractice not to.
The NCAA’s decision to allow conferences to engage data firms is another domino to fall for sports gambling changes happening in the US. It’s likely only a matter of time until all of the Power 5 conferences have followed suit locking in big-money partnership deals to sell player data.
Photo by Butch Dill/Associated Press