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NCAA Hammered for Hypocritical Message as March Madness Begins

Combined Shape

An estimated $10.4 billion — with a “B.”

That’s how much is bet each year on March Madness as 70 million NCAA Tournament brackets are filled out each spring.

Office pools and betting are as synonymous with March Madness as “One Shining Moment” and the games themselves.

But despite the money that exchanges hands this time of the year, the NCAA wants it to be known that it doesn’t encourage betting during March Madness.

It put up a message on the scoreboard during one of Thursday’s early games that read, “Don’t bet on it: The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering.”

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The $10.4 billion that March Madness gets in wagers is barely topped by the $10.8 billion television rights agreement that the NCAA has with its broadcast partners for the tournament.

Did you bet on March Madness this year?

None of that money will go the ones generating that revenue — the players — but the NCAA is trying its darnedest to make sure that fans don’t cash in on bets as well.

Despite explicitly stating that it opposes all forms of wagering, the NCAA has no problem allowing fans to play the Bracket Challenge on its official website.

This hypocritical stance hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans.

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The student-athletes not profiting from the tournament was the biggest source of ridicule from many users on social media. It also made them think about the NCAA commercial that premiered this week and is supposed to show a “day in the life” of a student-athlete.

Many former student-athletes blasted that commercial for not being an accurate representation of their college experiences.

Alex Caruso of the Los Angeles Lakers pointed out that everyone in the video made more money from the NCAA than any student-athlete has ever made.

But the NCAA apparently doesn’t care if that’s not an actual representation, or if student-athletes don’t get paid. All the organization seems to care about is the $209 million it will get from CBS/Turner to broadcast just Thursday’s 16 games on their networks.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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