Friday, July 27, 2007

Are Other Sports Leagues Safe from Gambling by Officials?

In wake of the NBA referee gambling scandal, questioned other sports leagues to ask what they do to protect against gambling in their sport. In NCAA basketball, for example, all officials eligible to be selected to work the championship are subject to random, thorough background checks. Furthermore, the NCAA does not bring the referees who work the national title game into the city until the day of the game. MLB, which previously experienced both the Pete Rose and Black Sox scandals, monitors baseball gambling trends to look for irregularities.

At his televised news conference on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern presented a lengthy list of safeguards the league had in place to prevent the sort of disgrace brought on in the last week by a federal investigation of suspected gambling by a referee.

The safeguards, clearly, weren't fail-safe.

"I can't believe it's happening to us," Stern said about the alleged gambling by referee Tim Donaghy on games he officiated.

Among other firewalls the NBA thought would protect it from gambling scandals are the presence in the league office of security representatives with experience in the
FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Army, the New York Police Department and New York State Police Investigation. The league, Stern said, maintains constant communication with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. It subjects its referees to extensive security checks, and it retains a security rep in Las Vegas to monitor unusual movements or trends on betting on NBA games in that city's legal sports books.

It wasn't enough.