University of Richmond Baseball Team Players Suspended by NCAA for Playing DFS

Posted on: March 1, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: March 1, 2017, 02:59h.

The National College Athletics Association has made no secret of the fact that it’s no friend of daily fantasy sports in the past, but the suspension of five University of Richmond’s baseball players for engaging in the contests has been met with incredulity this week.

Keenan Bartlett from the University of Richmond is one of five banned for DFS
University of Richmond baseball star Keenan Bartlett, ranked in the top 100 juniors in the US, is one of five players suspended by the NCAA for playing “fantasy football.” (Image: Twitter)

Among them are two of the team’s top players: Keenan Bartlett, ranked among the top 100 juniors in the country; and Kurtis Brown, a first-team all-A-10 choice last season.

All five have been suspended since before the team’s season-opener on February 17, and remain so, until the NCAA gets around to addressing their status.

Richmond had announced simply that the players were out due to “NCAA secondary violations” but two separate sources told the Richmond Times-Dispatch this week the five players had been involved in “fantasy football,” by which it’s presumed they mean DFS.

Virginia First State to Regulate

This is ironic that Virginia became the first state to legalize and regulate DFS, in March last year, and almost all of the bills to regulate the contest, passed in eight states over past year, stipulate that playing on college or amateur sports is strictly forbidden.

Market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, meanwhile, have entered into an agreement with the NCAA that their games will always be out of bounds.

All of this means that DFS contests involving college baseball and other college sports are practically non-existent, which completely removes any justification for penalizing the Richmond the players on the grounds they were “compromising the integrity of their sport.”  

No Nuances

Much of last year’s regulation designates DFS as skill-based games and not gambling, which makes them exempt from certain states’ gambling laws, but NCAA doesn’t appear to do nuances. It seems to be treating all DFS participation as gambling, pure and simple.

Its rules state:

“You are not eligible to compete if you knowingly participate in any sports wagering activity that involves intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics, through a bookmaker, a parlay card or any other method employed by organized gambling.

“Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required.”

The NCAA decision to suspend the players has been treated with derision by many sports writers. Writing for CBS Sports, Dawn Perry wondered whether preventing in DFS was “over-involved in the extreme.”   

“The NCAA would do well to not treat something as benign as playing fantasy football as a gateway to, I dunno, throwing games at the behest of a crime syndicate,” he suggested.