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Ole Miss & MSU discuss impact of sports betting

Photos courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

The impact of the legalization of sports betting on college athletics in Mississippi remains to be seen.

The Supreme Court’s decision has sent ripple effects across the state as many are wondering when sports betting will be available, where the funds will go, and how much revenue it will generate, but schools must now weigh the outcomes on their athletic programs.

The Mississippi legislature passed laws during the 2017 session which would allow sports betting should the court rule in the states’ favor, and that action paved the way for the state to move forward as the one of the first in the country to welcome betting with open arms.

Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork says that they have been able to follow the development, and as they continue to learn, they’ll work to ensure that the program conducts themselves the right way.

“By all accounts, it looks like it will move forward, and with that, comes a responsibility to make sure that we have integrity around our student-athletes, our coaches, our staff and around our entire athletic department and stress that it is against NCAA rules to bet on sports. So, we are going to have to educate more and monitor more,” Bjork said. “The overall obligation is to make sure that there is the utmost integrity around how we operate our athletic program.”

Bjork mentioned that they have had informal conversations with lawmakers, and he hopes to have meetings with the gaming commission to understand what will be done to protect the integrity of college athletics. He also noted that they will continue to educate student-athletes on the NCAA’s rules against gambling.

Mississippi State President Mark Keenum released a brief statement as the university attempts to understand how to properly address the situation moving forward.

“It is premature at this time to speculate on the possible impacts of the Supreme Court ruling. Without consultation with the NCAA, our conference partners, and appropriate officials in state government, we are unable to offer informed responses to your inquiries,” Keenum said.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has also weighed in on the matter while speaking with the SEC Network’s Brandon Zimmerman, but the commissioner held back from expounding on the matter until a later date.

The NCAA supports the decision and has rolled back rules that prohibit NCAA events from states that allow sports betting. In his remarks, President Mark Emmert said that they will work to ensure that sports betting does not corrupt college sports.

“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” Emmert said. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”

The Mississippi Gaming Commission is currently in the process of setting regulations, but a few steps remain in the process. Executive Director Allen Godfrey says that sports betting could make its way to Mississippi by mid-summer.

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