What to know on the NCAA rules on sports betting, potential punishments and much more

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

Monday's bombshell news that 40-plus student-athletes at Iowa and Iowa State are being investigated for possible sports betting brought on more questions than answers.

A large part of the uncertainty centers on how fresh the above-ground intersection still is between sports gambling and colleges athletics. Although the NCAA has had betting guidelines in place for some time — and it's been nearly four years since Iowa legalized sports betting in August 2019 — the increased accessibility has made this a more prevalent concern than ever.

With that, here are a handful of frequently asked questions and answers in regard to the in-state investigation and sports betting as a whole.

What is the NCAA's stance on sports betting for student-athletes?

"Don't bet on it" has long been the NCAA's catchphrase for sports wagering compliance. Here's what the organization considers a violation:

"The NCAA is committed to protecting student-athlete well-being and the integrity of competition," the NCAA website reads. "NCAA sports wagering rules do not allow student-athletes or athletics employees to bet on any sport sponsored by the NCAA at any level — including college and/or professional — or to share information for sports wagering purposes.

"If you put something at risk (such as cash, entry fee, dinner or other tangible item) on any amateur and/or professional sporting event with a chance to win something in return, you violate NCAA sports wagering rules."

More:Athletes at Iowa, Iowa State under investigation for possible online sports gambling

That means NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, all professional soccer leagues — along with the more obvious college sports — are off limits for NCAA student athletes. Some of the exceptions include NASCAR, UFC and horse racing.

Even passing along information about your team as a student-athlete to someone else is considered a violation, given how that information could potentially influence gamblers' decisions.

"Student-athletes should NOT share any information about their team or any other team," the NCAA says. "This includes information regarding team disciplinary actions, strategy, injuries or team morale. This information is sought by gamblers."

What about things like fantasy football leagues or NCAA Tournament pools where money is involved?

Also an NCAA violation.

"Types of sport wagers that violate NCAA rules include, but are not limited to, fantasy leagues, March Madness® brackets, Super Bowl squares, Calcuttas, sports pools, online sports bets, sports betting apps, parlay and prop bets, live in-game betting and single-game sports bets."

What is the NCAA's punishment if a student-athlete or athletics employee is caught sports betting?

It's a vague breakdown, but here is what the NCAA says on potential punishments:

"Student-athletes who violate NCAA sports wagering rules will be ineligible for competition, subject to appeal to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement. Penalties will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on the guidelines for the division in which the student-athlete participates. Institutional staff members found in violation of NCAA sports wagering rules will be subject to disciplinary or corrective action as outlined in the rules governing the NCAA infractions process."

What have the punishments been for previous student-athletes caught betting on sports?

While there is no clear-cut precedent on how the NCAA reacts to violations, here are some recent cases the NCAA has ruled on.

Is there any indication of point-shaving or game-fixing by the Iowa and Iowa State student-athletes who were allegedly betting?

No, and that's a big distinction from the Alabama baseball sports betting saga that broke last week.

"I’ve been getting a lot of questions with regards to the Alabama and LSU situation," Brian Ohorilko of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission told the Des Moines Register. "We received a number of integrity reports related to that market. That has not been the case, at all, through any of the markets that have been offered on these two universities.”

Among all the sports mentioned with potential gambling activity, University of Iowa baseball is the only one currently in season with betting options on different sportsbooks. When the Alabama situation broke, the sportsbooks immediately halted all bets on Crimson Tide baseball. That has not happened in this situation. As many as five sportsbooks, including DraftKings, BetRivers, Barstool and Tipico, had betting options for all three Iowa-Ohio State baseball games this past weekend.

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and Email him at