|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: With concerns about gamblers fishing for info, could injury report be cure|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 14:27|
No matter when West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez decides whether White will play, he won't tell anyone outside the program until game time. That inside information is too valuable - to gamblers.
``We're really concerned about a 'runner' for gambling. It concerns us to death,'' said Texas coach Mack Brown, who warns players to keep team information to themselves. ``We tell our players, if you're going to talk, even to your parents, don't talk about injuries.''
That secrecy, however, increases the information's value and leaves major college football programs vulnerable, said RJ Bell, president of Pregame.com, a Web site that provides information for gamblers.
``What we have in college football is a culture and context where there is no official information,'' Bell said. ``Clearly what it leads to is the high value of inside information.''
In the wake of the NBA betting scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy, accused of selling inside information to bookies, perhaps it's time for college football to have an official injury report.
M coach Dennis Franchione admitted he was charging boosters $1,200 for a secret newsletter with injury updates he wasn't making public. Franchione said the dozen or so boosters signed an agreement to keep the information confidential and there's been no evidence showing it was used for gambling.
The NCAA bylaws prohibit providing information to ``individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities.''
Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer said he takes a cautious approach when talking about the team.
``Yeah, to be honest with you, you never know who's doing what, so you've just have to stay tightlipped,'' he said. ``We always say, 'Anything with the team stays inside with the team.' You can't let anything like that out because you never knows who is going to take it to a bookie or whatever and say, 'I just heard from so-and-so that their running back is out.' So in this era, you have to be careful about everything you do.''
Bell said providing more official information, the way the NFL does, might alleviate some of the NCAA's worries about gambling.
The NFL releases a weekly injury report, which lets everybody - teams, fans and gamblers - know who's hurt and how likely it is the ailing player will play.
Because it would involve students' medical records, the NCAA has no jurisdiction and couldn't be involved in putting together an injury report. That would leave it up to each conference.
Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said his league last year briefly discussed a leaguewide policy on how all coaches - not just football - would disclose injuries after some women's volleyball players at Hawaii refused to sign a release allowing the school to discuss their injuries.
In the end, the WAC stuck with the status quo and let the schools determine their own policies, Benson said.
Several years ago, Southeastern Conference sports information directors talked about a weekly injury report, but it never went past the SIDs.
Coaches haven't always been so tightlipped about injuries.
Grant Teaff, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association who coached at Baylor for 20 seasons starting in 1972, would let the medical staff speak directly with reporters.
Over the years, some coaches started holding back information to keep the competition guessing, and there was a domino affect. If your opponent wasn't being forthright, than why should you, Teaff said.
Stricter federal health privacy laws have caused some schools to be even more restrictive about releasing information. Those same laws mean every player would have to give permission to be listed on an injury report.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said that alone might be enough to derail the idea of a conference producing an NFL-style report.
Although Teaff doesn't support the idea of an injury report, he said it warrants warrants discussion.
Even so he's not optimistic coaches would support it and guessed at least 60 percent would be against it.
Count Oregon State coach Mike Riley among those in favor.
``It sure would be good for me and for us as coaches ... not have to dance around this stuff,'' said Riley, who coached in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, ``where you don't have people sneaking around trying to find out information and posting it on the Internet.''
USC coach Pete Carroll, who coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots, is glad to be done with an injury report and doubts it would solve anything.
``I've been part of that,'' he said. ``As standardized as it is, it's still hokey.''
AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno in Austin Texas, contributed to this report.