In testimony to a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing Thursday (April 26) on the Student Athlete Protection Act, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, voiced strong support for the legislation, saying “it is a crucial step” in the battle against gambling on college, high school and Olympic athletic events.
p. The act, which was originally introduced last year, specifically closes a loophole in the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that exempted Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana from operating sports betting systems.
p. Reps. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., whose 3rd District includes Notre Dame, and Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., are the principal sponsors of the House version of the bill.
p. Father Malloy’s testimony was submitted in written form. The text follows:
p. p. "Just more than three weeks ago, a very talented Notre Dame student-athlete, Ruth Riley, stood at the free throw line in an arena in St. Louis with the score tied, 5.8 seconds on the clock, a full house and a national television audience watching, and the NCAA women’s basketball national championship in the balance. Ruth ? the player of the year in women’s collegiate basketball, the student-athlete of the year, and the recipient of numerous other awards for her accomplishments as an athlete and as a student ? had two free throws coming. Both shots rattled around the rim a bit ? actually, a lot if you were one of us from Notre Dame ? but both eventually settled through the net, and Ruth and her teammates held that slim lead to become the national champions.
p. "The point is that never in the course of those dramatic few seconds was there any reason for anyone to think that Ruth Riley cared about anything other than winning that basketball game.
p. "Her story is what those of us who support the Student Athlete Protection Act are trying to preserve. "At the same time, however, there’s a fact that’s well known at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and to most of the nation’s college and university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches: There were more point-shaving and game-fixing schemes involving college and university athletic teams during the 1990s than in all previous decades combined. One of those schemes involved a former Notre Dame student-athlete. He’s now putting his life and reputation back together, and among the ways he’s doing that is by telling those of us in collegiate athletics ? administrators, coaches and students ? how it happened to him, what the pressures and the attractions were, how a good person came to commit criminal acts.
p. "His story is what those of us who support the Student Athlete Protection Act are trying to prevent.
p. "Is it any doubt that the NCAA, college and university presidents, athletics officials and coaches stand united in support of this legislation? Gambling is the great cloud that throws its shadow over the games our students play. How many more scandals will it take before a Ruth Riley can’t go to the free throw line in such a situation without spectators wondering about the legitimacy of what’s about to unfold? How long will it be before a fan, seeing an excellent free throw shooter miss in the final seconds when his or her team has a comfortable lead, wonders if that miss was about lack of concentration or the point spread? Is it any wonder that in Nevada, which is the subject of this legislation, state law prohibits gambling on Nevada schools, even while the federal loophole that this legislation would close permits legal gambling on Notre Dame’s and other institutions’ athletic events. "I, and all of us who support this legislation, know that its passage isn’t the end of our battle with gambling. Far from it. But it is a crucial step, because it enshrines in federal law the principle that the athletic victories and defeats of amateur athletes ? student-athletes ? often, teen-aged athletes ? should not be a legal source of revenue for the professional gambling industry.
p. "We must be able to take this step, this modest and moderate ? but vital ? step. All of those people and groups who are most intimately involved with the well being of student-athletes favor passage of this legislation; only those whose sole interest is money oppose it.
p. "Please give us this victory for the well being of our student-athletes and help us to preserve and protect the integrity of the games they play.