Villanova And St. Joe’s Drawing Lines In The Sand On Student Body Betting

Posted on October 22, 2019 - Last Updated on October 23, 2019

Two Philadelphia-area schools with D1 athletic programs are pushing back against Pennsylvania sports wagering by banning students, faculty, and staff from betting.

Despite that, how the Villanova Wildcats and the St. Joseph’s Hawks can make their lines in the sand stick is an open question with no solid answers from either school.

How enforceable is a ban on college sports betting?

Short of blabbing by the guilty parties or squealing by confederates, the bans appear more about expressing sentiment than setting a readily enforceable reality in the days of online sports wagering.

This isn’t to say boasting will not eventually happen. However, it does mean wagering will likely be more furtive on those campuses. That also means the threat of punitive actions could prevent those with gambling problems to avoid seeking help.

Villanova imposed betting restrictions last fall

Last November, Villanova University issued a far-ranging policy barring “ALL Villanova University Students, Faculty, Staff and Specified Independent Contractors” from wagering on games involving the school’s teams and discussing “non-public” information.

Wildcat student-athletes, Athletic Department staffers and others are banned from betting on all college and amateur sports, professional sports and fantasy sports. This is universal across Pennsylvania schools and pro teams, though. The PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) mandates that these people are not allowed to bet.

Sanctions can lead to removal from a Villanova team for the athletes and firing for others.

Missing from the policy is an explanation of how they can enforce it. Likely, that’s because they really can’t.

A search of the archives of the student-run news publication, The Villanovan, indicates the publication never wrote about the topic. That’s despite the prominence of sports at the school.

Nova, coached by Jay Wright, enters the basketball pre-season ranked in the top-ten in the AP poll.

Villanova supplied a copy of the policy but did not respond to a request for comment.

St. Joseph’s bans any betting by the student body

Like Villanova, St. Joe’s is a private Catholic institution. It also recently imposed restrictions on the student body.

Its ban goes further than Nova’s policy. It places a blanket ban on all sports wagering by its students, as well as the bans on student-athletes and athletics staff, according to a report in the student news publication, The Hawk.

As the story written by the publication’s assistant sports editor pointed out:

“Admittedly, detecting gambling is one of the challenges administrators will face.”

Vice President and Associate Provost of Student Life Cary Anderson told the student publication the school is relying on the honor system and word of mouth.

Director of Athletics Jill Bodensteiner told student journalist Ryan Mulligan that the university would “enforce it when it comes to our attention.”

St. Joe’s did not respond to requests for comment.

The editor of The Hawk, Luke Malanga, said Tuesday:

“There hasn’t been much of a response (positive or negative) that I’ve heard from the student body. In terms of enforcement, there isn’t much information on plans for that. Right now, they’re just going on an honor policy.”

The university is hosting a student forum on the policy. Oddly, university officials have spoken of rethinking the policy should the Hawks make it through to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to allow for March Madness betting.

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Other Philly D1 schools have not adopted a betting policy

The other Big Five teams in Philadelphia include the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and LaSalle University. They are all D1 schools.

Penn State, which has nearly 100,000 students spread across 24 campuses, does not have any sort of student betting ban. The school’s football team is currently ranked in the top 25 teams in the nation. Overall, PA has 14 D1 colleges.

Purdue University, a public school in Indiana, a state where sports betting is legal, just instituted a sweeping ban last week, according to the New York Times. There are other schools across the country with bans as well.

New Jersey, one of the 13 states allowing sports betting, so far, addressed the gambling and college sports issue. The state doesn’t allow any betting on college sporting events involving a New Jersey school or taking place within the state.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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