The Pac-12 plans to consider releasing weekly injury reports amid the proliferation of state-sponsored sports betting, conference commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports. The initiative comes as the Pac-12 is also considering selling its data rights to capitalize on the betting wave that is sweeping through college athletics.
Injury reports could conceivably enhance the value of that data. Kliavkoff plans to discuss the concept with Pac-12 coaches and athletic directors in 2023.
"The concept is, if we're going to collectively be selling our data and that data is going to be used for sports betting, we have to figure out a way to be consistent -- not just across my conference but across conferences with respect to how we share injury data," Kliavkoff said.
Injury reports have long been a sticking point with college coaches and administrators. But now, more than 4 ½ years after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to sponsor sports betting, the subject has become the differentiator between professional and college sports in the gambling community.
Pro sports are considered to have more integrity, in a gambling sense, because sportsbooks and their oddsmakers know who is playing. For example, the NFL mandates injury reports three times per week along with in-game updates. Major game-fixing scandals in college sports have averaged one a decade since the 1940s.
"If you have a [college] coach who says it's a competitive disadvantage to participate in an injury report, his equipment managers, his trainers, his assistant coaches and his coaches are at a heightened risk [of being influenced to share such information]," said Matt Holt, founder and CEO of U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based firm that studies corruption in the gaming industry.
"If you know Coach A never releases information, that also means the oddsmakers and sportsbooks also won't get that info. That makes it more valuable," he added. "[Nefarious figures are] going to spend time and resources to try to send bribes to those players, those coaches, those equipment mangers because that information has more value."
Holt said it would only require college coaches designating players "available" or "unavailable" to clean up the situation.
"Traveling or not traveling," Holt added. "If it's an eligibility issue, you don't travel with the team. You can release that ahead of time."
From 2011-17, ACC coaches issued injury reports only for conference games. They were meant as a guideline and not enforced. In March, the MAC sold its statistics to UK-based Genius Sports for an undisclosed sum. That same month, the Pac-12 signed a deal with Tempus Ex Machina, which could license the league's data in the future.
The idea of licensing statistics is to give a rightsholder exclusive control over "latency," the period between when the action occurs in real time and when it hits betting screens. That is generally only fractions of a second; however, the rightsholder can profit from by releasing the action first.
"We've not yet sold those rights to sports betting companies, but I anticipate that might be part of our next media rights deal," Kliavkoff said.
Two other FBS commissioners whom CBS Sports contacted were yet to hear Kliavkoff's idea; however, they are willing to listen to a proposal.
Holt predicted all major conferences will eventually sell their data rights. He is consulting on such deals with several leagues at the moment. Holt has lectured conferences on the changing gambling landscape. His firm sends out 15-18 global alerts on suspicious contests around the world per month, half of which results in suspensions, bans or arrests.
In 2019, the NCAA Board of Governors Ad Hoc Committee on Sports Wagering determined "player availability reporting is not a viable option at this time." That same year, an NCAA gambling working group proposed a first-ever standardized national player availability report. It went nowhere.
"All I would say is that I'm not surprised we're coming back to that because that was a very, very intense conversation we tried to have in Indianapolis a couple of years ago," said Chris Howard, executive vice president and CEO of Arizona State Public Enterprise. Howard was a member of that ad hoc committee.
As of October, the American Gaming Association (AGA) reported the sports betting "handle" in the U.S. (amount of money changing hands) had increased 70% year over year.
Presently, 32 states and Washington, D.C. have approved legalized sports betting.