We spoke with Scott Van Pelt of ESPN’s new midnight (ET) edition of SportsCenter earlier this week about why his show was going to embrace gambling. “We’ll do highlights specifically to show a horrendous loss for somebody that gave 7.5 points,” Van Pelt said. “We’ll do that, because people bet.” ESPN even started to feature gambling segments and “cover alerts” during its NCAA football coverage.
Well, unfortunately for Van Pelt and the rest of the ESPN team, USA Today spoke with several college athletic administrators who don’t think gambling talk is appropriate during college football telecasts. Remember, ESPN’s 12-year deal with the College Football Playoff averages roughly $470 million annually – so the major players of college football have a strong voice.
Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby:
I don’t think those are things that ought to be a part of the presentation of college football, but maybe that’s the environment in which we find ourselves.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione:
Somebody might say, ‘We’re rights-holders to certain properties, we have the choice. But this subject has been sensitive for so long, I’m really surprised it has risen to this level.
Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne:
Anytime there’s anything to do with sports gambling and college sports, understandably that will be something I would hope at some point will be discussed.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey:
There is an existing concern about the inexorable march toward gambling being more and more central to sport. It has clearly gotten more momentum based on messaging out of the NBA last year. We have to be mindful of the realities of the culture developing around us.
Van Pelt on why his show embraces gambling:
Do you think ESPN will stop discussing gambling during college football telecasts? Let us know in the comments section below.[h/t Awful Announcing]