The growth in the daily fantasy sports space is astonishing. The number of people playing continues to grow exponentially with more than 8 million people projected to try daily fantasy sports in 2015. During the first week of the NFL season, industry leader DraftKings, had 200,000 new user sign-ups in one day. The industry is estimated to reach $2 billion in revenue by 2020. The target market for the industry remains young sports fans that want the opportunity to win cash prizes each week instead of enduring a season-long fantasy league.
A 2013 survey found that 20% of student-athletes participated in fantasy leagues with entry fees and monetary prizes. This may not seem surprising because student-athletes do fall within the target market, but the NCAA has rules against such acts. Recently, the NCAA emphasized its prohibitions against student-athletes taking part in daily fantasy sports. A student-athlete that is found participating in daily fantasy sports will lose a year of eligibility, said Oliver Luck, the NCAA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. The NCAA rule Luck is referring to states:
“The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”
To date, the only publicized penalties for taking part in fantasy sports have been given to assistant coaches, athletic department personnel, and facility managers. With the explosion of daily fantasy sports, it will be extremely difficult for the NCAA to enforce this rule. The NCAA has limited resources and it must focus its attention on the most egregious acts. It is unlikely that monitoring student-athletes that play daily fantasy sports falls within one of the NCAA’s top priorities. As with most compliance issues, the most effective means remains a proactive athletic compliance department that provides ongoing education to its student-athletes, coaches, and administrators.