Are other leagues safe from gambling by officials?
At his televised news conference on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern presented a lengthy list of safeguards the league had in place to prevent the sort of disgrace brought on in the last week by a federal investigation of suspected gambling by a referee.The safeguards, clearly, weren't fail-safe. "I can't believe it's happening to us," Stern said about the alleged gambling by referee Tim Donaghy on games he officiated. Among other firewalls the NBA thought would protect it from gambling scandals are the presence in the league office of security representatives with experience in the FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Army, the New York Police Department and New York State Police Investigation. The league, Stern said, maintains constant communication with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. It subjects its referees to extensive security checks, and it retains a security rep in Las Vegas to monitor unusual movements or trends on betting on NBA games in that city's legal sports books. It wasn't enough. "We've been comparing our procedures to see whether there are other leagues that we want to, you know, despite our competitive spirit, that actually do it better than we do," Stern said at his press conference, "whether there's things we can adapt, etcetera, because we take our covenant very seriously." Are those other leagues any more or less secure against a gambling scandal than the NBA was? Could it happen in football, or in baseball, or at the college level? ESPN.com informally canvassed a number of other sports leagues and organizations about their safeguards. Here are their responses.
Major League Baseball
• Rule 21 (The Pete Rose Rule) is posted in every major league clubhouse, as a reminder that umpires, players and other employees face a lifetime suspension for betting on games they're involved in, or a one-year banishment for betting on games they're not involved in. Umpires are also handed a bulletin outlining the specifics of Rule 21 before each season.
National Football League
Every official is graded on every play of every game. All officials undergo background checks coming into the league, and every 3-4 years thereafter. And the NFL's security department maintains widespread contacts in the gambling and law enforcement communities to stay abreast of what is going on.
• The NCAA produces a video that is provided to each of the officials selected for the NCAA championship. The video warns of the dangers of gambling.
Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
• The ATP signed a memorandum of understanding with Betfair in the U.K. and with the European Sports Security Association in which information can be shared in case there are any suspect gambling patterns.
Women's Tennis Association (ATP)
Here is the language provided by the WTA: