ATLANTA — The expanding presence of legalized sports gambling around the country is something the SEC has been anticipating and planning for since 2011, league Commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday at SEC Media Days.
“Members of the SEC staff have been in communication with and learning with those who work in legalized sports gambling,” he said. “We’ve also been in contact over the last year with representatives from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the PGA offices to monitor and learn from their efforts and to stay up-to-date on their legislative conversations.
“Gambling activity around sports is not new, and that includes gambling activity around collegiate sports. What is new is the expansion of legalized sports gambling and the increased cultural acceptance of legalized sports gambling.”
Sankey said the league and lawmakers need to be proactive to make sure the integrity of the game is protected.
“It is of the utmost importance,” Sankey said. “While it may be preferred to have no expansion of gambling activity, what is needed now is for our state and federal legislative leaders to enact policies that properly support the integrity of our games and provide the necessary protections for our students and our student-athletes.”
Sankey said the presence of legalized gambling could eventually lead the league to adopting some sort of injury report for its teams. The league currently has no requirement for reporting injuries like the NFL and other professional sports have.
“It’s clear that the nature of any so-called injury report around college sports will have very different dynamics than are present at the professional level,” he said. 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.
“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.”
Back to Hoover
SEC Media Days will return to its old home — Hoover, Ala. — next summer, but there’s a chance it could return to Atlanta sometime in the future.
Sankey said the league will look into holding the annual event at other cities in the coming years.
“We’re in Hoover next year,” Sankey said. “And I’ve been clear, in my mind is some portability. I can see already there are fans who likely have not seen this event or been a part of this event who are here today. And we can do that in different places, just like we had a men’s basketball tournament in St. Louis in March this year.”
Fisher on ACC-SEC
A year ago, Jimbo Fisher said the ACC is now the strongest conference in college football. He walked that statement in a different direction Monday now that he’s out of the ACC and back in the SEC with Texas A&M.
“I think the ACC’s progression to where it has become in football is because of the SEC,” he said. “When I was at in Florida State, we were surrounded by Florida, by Georgia, by Alabama, by Auburn. That was the closest schools to us. That’s who our big recruiting battles occurred against.
“Because you’re so close, I think it enhanced the ACC’s ability to compete and rise its level of ball because of the recruiting competition, and then, once you get better players, you play better.”
The SEC’s unprecedented success on the national stage forced the ACC to up its overall game, he said.
“The commitment to those universities (FSU, Clemson, Miami) as far as jobs and money and salaries, if you look at that league, they’ve grown immensely in the last five, six years,” Fisher said.
“I think the SEC’s pressured to stay on top. Once somebody gets on top, like the SEC had the great run of national championships, we were able to break it at Florida State, that was our goal. We had to compete with the SEC, so that raised the level of play in the ACC.”
Stoops on Fisher
Monday’s SEC Media Days served as a reunion of sorts for Fisher and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. The two worked together on the same Florida State staff under Bobby Bowden.
Stoops is predicting big things out of the new A&M coach.
“Jimbo, there’s no doubt he’ll do very well at Texas A&M,” Stoops said. “I have great respect for him and the way he goes about his work. There are many things I do at Kentucky that I took from him.
“Certainly, you have to be your own man and do things that fit your own program, but there’s things I’ve taken from him I still implement to this day. There’s no doubt he’ll do well. He’ll recruit at a high level. His teams will play extremely hard.”