CHICAGO — Iowa has always worked to educate its student-athletes about gambling-related issues.
Coach Kirk Ferentz has had guest speakers address the topic with players during the preseason on an annual basis, but with the arrival of legalized sports wagering in Iowa within weeks and on the horizon in Illinois and elsewhere, athletic department officials are increasing those efforts.
“We’re going to do everything we can to educate and make sure we don’t end up in a difficult situation to the best of our ability,’’ Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said Friday at the Big Ten kickoff.
Barta sees the current climate as not that different from what Iowa student-athletes may have faced in the past.
“Sports betting illegally has been around for decades,’’ Barta said. “We’re doing doubling down, pun intended, on education. Right now, we have to make sure that our student-athletes are reminded of the ways that gambling can intervene in your life.’’
Barta painted a scenario of how an athlete’s friend might seek injury information on other teammates, a discussion that might seem like casual conversation.
He goes on to point out that there have been instances where that friend might actually be receiving payment for passing along information to gambling professionals.
“There are stories of those things happening in the past. We’re reminding our student-athletes not to put themselves in those conversations,’’ Barta said.
Hawkeye athletes are not the only ones who will be getting that reminder.
With the implementation of legalized sports wagering, Barta said staff members within the athletic department, including student staff members, will join coaches, assistant coaches and student-athletes in being educated about gambling-related issues.
“Really what we are setting out to do is trying to control what we can control,’’ Barta said. “We want to do the best we can to put the information out there so individuals can avoid putting themselves in a potentially bad situation.’’