ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE BY BAILEE COFER
Online fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel have guaranteed participants a combined $37 million in prize money, according to CNBC. However in the state of Iowa, it is illegal to participate in this form of gambling. This is doubly banned for Drake University’s student-athletes, regardless of what the laws in their home state may be.
Since Drake participates in Division I athletics, it is therefore subject to the NCAA’s compliance rules, one of which prevents athletes from sports wagering. All student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff members must adhere to NCAA rules during the entire academic year regardless of whether or not their respective sport is in season.
Dan Anderson is Drake’s NCAA Director of Compliance. It is his job to oversee all of Drake’s compliance operations and to be a resource for student-athletes pertaining to their eligibility. Football season is a prominent time for sports wagering. Anderson talks to all of Drake’s sports teams about what they can and cannot do under NCAA rules.
“Athletes cannot wager anything of value with the opportunity to win something,” Anderson said. “However, they can wager if there is no monetary value involved to enter, and the opportunity is open to everyone — like the Warren Buffet perfect bracket for March Madness last year.”
Under this rule, student-athletes could not be picked to play in half-time games for prizes at Drake sports events, but could enter a free raffle or random drawing. Student-athletes cannot accept free meals or gifts for being a part of a sports team, as those are considered to be “extra benefits” and are not allowed by the NCAA.
On Drake’s campus, the intramural program states that student-athletes cannot participate in the same sport that they play at the NCAA level.
“The rules are in place to ensure fair play and facilitate integrity within the athletic systems,” Anderson said.
All these rules that apply to student-athletes do not apply to regular students.
“I think at some schools there is some separation between student-athletes and students,” Anderson said. “Drake has really strived to make athletes equals with the general public.”
One of the ways in which Drake does this is through not having a standard miss-class policy, an athletic training table for meals or early registration for athletes, which are often found on other universities’ campuses.
“I feel Drake makes a big effort to even out the privileges among student-athletes and students,” said senior soccer player Alex Freeman. “We don’t really get anything that gives us a big advantage. We are treated like regular students.”
Freeman says there are pros to being a student-athlete. But they go along with missed opportunities, such as not being able to study abroad for a semester because of practices and games she can’t miss.
She has also noticed a degree of separateness between students and student-athletes. Teammates, Freeman has observed, generally hang out with one other more than they do with students.
“It kind of comes naturally,” Freeman said. “It’s noticeable in the classrooms. Teammates sit by teammates, sorority sisters sit together, fraternity brothers sit together — people tend to associate more with people they spend a lot of time with.”
Joel Fuxa is a senior at Drake who has seen both sides. He played football his first two years at Drake, but stopped after suffering a shoulder injury and has spent the past two years exclusively as a student.
“I think there is some separation between students and student-athletes,” Fuxa said. “You tend to gravitate towards people you are similar with and spend time with.”
As a student-athlete, Fuxa said he felt disadvantaged compared to students because he had a lot less time to do schoolwork and socialize due to practice schedules and traveling for competition. As a student, he has more free time, but gives up the team community was once a part of. He said some advantages he’s received being a student have been being able to participate in fantasy football leagues and Drake half-time games, during which he has even been successful and won prizes.
Fuxa said the only notable privilege student-athletes have over students is they sometimes receive more lenience from professors in the classroom.
“You’ve got to keep in mind that when the student-athletes miss class, it’s because they are going somewhere and representing Drake University,” Fuxa said. “They are doing their best to bring respect and recognition to our school, so that is kind of a justification for the few privileges they get.”
Anderson, Freeman and Fuxa all said that Drake seems to have a unique situation in which there appears to be less disparity found between students and student-athletes than on bigger campuses.
“There is no ‘I’m better than you attitude’ on either side,” Fuxa said. “There is no glorification given to one group over another. And that is what sets Drake apart.”