University of Kansas

Self says educating athletes, families will be key if states allow sports gambling

Kansas head coach Bill Self talked about the potential for legalization of sports betting outside of Nevada during a recent podcast.
Kansas head coach Bill Self talked about the potential for legalization of sports betting outside of Nevada during a recent podcast. AP

The Supreme Court ruled recently that individual states can legalize sports betting if they so desire. What that means locally is that college basketball fans — if the states of Kansas and/or Missouri OK it — could legally place bets on the Kansas Jayhawks, Missouri Tigers and other teams, perhaps online or at gambling parlors, before games.

This change could cause concern not only locally but nationwide. Point-shaving scandals involving college basketball players have been around for years.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t affect us at all,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Tuesday on Andy Katz’s March Madness 365 podcast, referring to college basketball as a whole. “I know there’s very valid reasons why the courts would make that decision to allow states to do different things (regarding gambling).

“The reality of it is some of the most embarrassing black eyes that collegiate athletics has experienced has been through sports wagering and that stuff,” he added. “We’ve got plenty of safeguards in now but everything will be definitely amped up, heightened security so to speak, and all schools are going to need to do a great job on educating their athletes or the families around the athletes, because you know at whatever level they’ve been approached (by those wanting to fix games) in the past that it’s certainly going to go up.”

Self on possible new draft rule

Condoleezza Rice’s commission on college basketball recently called for a rule that will allow players to return to school if they enter the NBA Draft but are not selected.

As it stands now, an undrafted player is not allowed to return to college and usually enters the NBA G-League or plays overseas.

Self, who has been a member of the NCAA oversight committee the past two years and recently attended a meeting to discuss practical implications of the commission’s suggestions, was asked about this possible rule change on Katz’s podcast.

“That is one I think I could change my mind daily on,” Self said. “I do think kids and families deserve freedom to make their own choices. I think with freedom will come many, many bad decisions that could certainly impact kids negatively over time. I don’t think we want to have a system in place in that everybody in age ninth and 10th grade will think, ‘Well I can just apply for the draft and if I don’t make it I can just go do this.’ I think that certainly de-emphasizes education.

“There’s got to be some balance that works out that’s obviously good for the elite (athletes) but also good for everybody and doesn’t promote poor decision-making to the point where kids could actually throw away their professional opportunities by thinking they need to take that opportunity. We have to do a great job of educating. I’m sure the NBA will be totally on board with helping the colleges do that."

Players have improved

Self was asked which players have stood out the most since the end of the season and graduation, when they headed home for a couple of weeks before the start of summer school in June.

“First of all, Udoka is so much better than he was four months ago, three months ago,” Self said of center Udoka Azubuike, who must decide by 11:59 p.m. on May 31 if he wants to keep his name in the NBA Draft or return to KU for his junior season.

“Dedric Lawson is a really good player. He’s taken his body and everything (to another level),” Self said of the power forward transfer from Memphis. “K.J. Lawson, his brother, has been really solid for us. Two kids I think have been really impressive … we have (sophomore-to-be) Marcus Garrett. As you know, most kids make the biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore year. We had a freshman sit out this past year also that started last year at Cal, Charlie Moore. You could look at it (that) we could lose all five starters. We will lose at least four (and one could say), ‘What do they have coming back?’ The reality is we’ve got quite a bit coming back because we had those three sitting out last year.”

League honors possible again

Self on whether KU will have a Big 12 player of the year candidate again next season.

“I actually think we do. I actually think that depending on what Udoka does (he could be candidate),” Self said. “But Dedric Lawson is a guy who could compete for conference player of the year honors in addition to Udoka.

"We have freshmen coming in, Devon Dotson and David McCormack were McDonald’s All-Americans and we have one freshman coming in, Quentin Grimes from Houston, that may be a guy who could be mentioned for one of the premier freshmen in the league as well. I think we have a nice blend of guys.”