One in three high-profile athletes received abusive messages from individuals with “betting interests,” and more than 540 men’s and women’s college basketball players received similar abuse, including death threats, during the championship tournament in March, the NCAA said in a release Friday. .

The NCAA looked at athletes participating in the sports that attract the most betting interest — football and basketball, among others — and found that online abuse is widespread. Signify, an artificial intelligence company and NCAA partner, covered 1,000 Division I men’s and women’s college basketball players, 64 teams, more than 200 coaches and 120 NCAA game officials during March Madness. The analysis, which is part of an NCAA initiative aimed at combating online abuse and harassment, found 4,000 posts or comments during March Madness that were confirmed to be abusive or threatening.

The NCAA says data shows that women’s basketball players receive about three times more overall threats than men, and that 15-25% of abuse directed at players, coaches and officials involved in the most popular college sports is related to betting.

“Individuals who harass athletes, amateur or professional, should not be tolerated,” American Gaming Association senior vice president of strategic communications Joe Maloney told ESPN in a statement. “Importantly, the legal sports betting market is for the first time providing important transparency for players to discuss solutions to reduce harassment — an opportunity that illegal market actors do not provide. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the NCAA, professional leagues and athletes. other stakeholders in the universally shared goal of reducing harassment.”

In March, Armando Backot, a forward on the North Carolina men’s basketball team, told reporters that he had received dozens of direct messages on social media criticizing his performance in the Tar Heels’ win over Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s terrible,” Bact said. “Even in the last game, I guess I didn’t get enough rebounds or something. I thought I played pretty well last game, but I looked at my DMs, and I got over 100 messages telling me that I sucked and stuff. Like because I didn’t get enough rebounds.”

The released data coincides with the NCAA’s efforts to ban sportsbooks from offering prop betting on college players. Prop bets include over/under bets on a player’s points or rebounds. Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland and Vermont have recently passed laws banning prop betting on college players, and more states are considering the issue.

Joe Brennan, a longtime Internet gaming consultant and now executive director of online sportsbook Prime Sports, believes the NCAA is looking at the issue “from the wrong end of the telescope.”

“This is first and foremost a social media problem,” Brennan said. “Demanding the NCAA to ban college player props is a distraction from the root causes and potential solutions. Abusive speech toward teams and players is a sad reality in competitive sports. … It’s unfortunate that sports betting has become just another issue. It is, but it certainly is. didn’t start.”


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