The NCAA is working to limit betting on college sports in hopes of protecting student-athletes and maintaining the integrity of competition, said NCAA President Charlie Baker in a new statement.

He highlighted efforts to ban prop betting, noting that several states have already taken this step.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed,” Baker said. “The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game — issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done.”

What are prop bets?

Prop bets are bets on one specific aspect of a game, like the number of 3-pointers a basketball player will make or which football team or player will score the first touchdown.

Prop bets enable bettors to zero in on one part of the competition, rather than — or in addition to — gambling on the overall result of the contest.

“Different types of prop bets involve games, teams, players and novelty markets. They can range from how many total touchdowns will be scored (game), how many points one team will score by itself (team), how many interceptions a quarterback will throw (player), and on what color of Gatorade the winning coach will be dumped (novelty),” according to Michigan’s MLive.com.

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Ethics of prop betting

Prop betting has gained popularity with the rise of sports betting apps and websites. That’s created new challenges for sports leagues.

For one thing, prop bets can put bigger targets on the backs of individual players.

  • If you bet on the San Francisco 49ers to win and they lose, you’d be upset about quarterback Brock Purdy missing some open throws.
  • But if you bet specifically on Purdy having three touchdowns and he had two with one silly miss, your anger at the quarterback would likely be amplified.

Baker referenced this potential for more targeted anger in his statement when he talked about athletes being harassed.

Prop bets also increase the temptation for athletes to adjust their performance in response to the market.

  • A bench player in basketball can’t do much to affect the overall outcome of the game, but he can control his own stat line and other specific situations that are often at the center of prop bets.

NBA prop betting scandal

The NCAA’s sports betting announcement comes just days after the NBA announced an investigation into Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter.

The NBA initiated the investigation after discovering prop betting that seemed to anticipate Porter’s on-court behavior.

“In (a) game on Jan. 26 against the LA Clippers, there was increased betting interest on the under for Porter props, which for the night were set at around 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. There was also an over/under for Porter’s made 3-pointers, which was 0.5. That evening, Porter played just four minutes before leaving the game because of what the Raptors said was an aggravation of an eye injury,” ESPN reported.

After that game and a similar situation during a game on March 20, DraftKings Sportsbook announced that prop bets on Porter were the biggest moneymakers for gamblers during the day’s NBA action, per ESPN.

Prop betting in NCAA games

In his statement, the NCAA president noted that several states have already banned prop betting in the context of college sports due to these concerns and others.

“This week we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets,” Baker said.