Scaring students straight?

The NCAA has long been opposed to any kind of betting on college sports, often throwing legal and illegal bookmaking into the same pile of forbidden goods. I doubt that they would condone a college course on sports betting. The organization does, however, sponsor programs that try to limit student betting. The Diamondback reports on a presentation by a former mobster at the University of Maryland:

Michael Franzese, a former member of the notorious New York-based Columbo crime family and known as “Long Island Don,” told the Terrapin student athletes yesterday why they should stay away from gambling, more than nine years after five university athletes were exposed for betting on college sporting events.

“If you’re dealing with a bookmaker, some way, somehow, you’re associated with organized crime,” said Franzese, who at his first of two speeches at the university admitted to fixing several college games. “Don’t let somebody like the guy that I was use you.”

Franzese, who has spoken for the NCAA and several professional sports leagues since 1996, shared his experiences at two mandatory presentations for student athletes yesterday at the Colony Ballroom in Stamp Student Stamp Student Union and the Gossett Team House – each team that was not playing out of town was required to attend one of the speeches.

Franzese confessed to destroying the careers of many college athletes between 1980 and 1991 when he had a successful gambling operation. He did not take bets directly, but explained that all bookies are connected to organized crime in some fashion.

He said he earned the mob more than $300 million, which included revenue from gambling and the gasoline industry. He said he would challenge a football player of any size to mess with mobsters like him.

Ex-mobster warns student athletes of gambling pitfalls

Franzese also talked about the dangers of gambling addiction. College sport betting, it seems, is a growing problem.

It is possible that legalization and regulation of sports betting might be a way of limiting criminal influence in college athletics, but the NCAA wants to eliminate all betting on college games, even in Nevada where it is legal.

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