Simon Fraser University and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are fighting Bill C-290, a private member's bill aiming to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada.
The NCAA prohibits any championship tournaments being held in a state or province that allows single-game wagering on the outcome of an NCAA championship. The B.C. government is supporting the bill.
"At the most practical level, SFU would be unable to host championship events - to the detriment of our student-athletes, their coaches and the opportunity to raise the profile of SFU and our local communities," SFU president Andrew Petter said in a statement to the senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs.
The NCAA has a firm stance against all forms of sports betting - both legal and illegal. Neither student/athletes, nor staff members of any NCAA organization may bet on NCAA events, and failure to comply would result in suspensions and loss of eligibility. The organization has also expressed concern that permitting gambling would jeopardize the integrity of student/athletes and sporting events.
In a submission to the senate committee in Ottawa on Thursday, the NCAA wrote: "The spread of betting on intercollegiate athletics, including the introduction of single-event sports betting proposed by Bill C-290, threatens to damage irreparably the integrity of ... NCAA athletic competition."
The university has those same worries.
"SFU shares these concerns and believes university sports should be appreciated for the benefits related to participation of student/athletes, coaches, and institutions in fair contests, not the amount of money wagered on the outcome of the competition," said Petter.
The National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have also objected to the bill, which would amend the Criminal Code of Canada to permit single-game betting.
It's rare for a private member's bill to become law, but this one has already passed through the House of Commons. The senate committee on Thursday approved the bill, and now it needs only third reading in the Senate to become law.
If it does, each province would be allowed to decide if it wants to allow single-game betting in its jurisdiction, and B.C.'s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch wrote to the senate committee supporting it. Currently, provinces that allow sports betting, such as Ontario with its Pro-Line games, require bettors to wager on multiple outcomes on a single ticket, commonly called "parlay" betting.
Tim Rahilly, associate vice-president students, went to Ottawa to present SFU's case against the bill. He says after his appearance, the Senate committee went on to approve the bill "on division."
"At least our views have been registered," he says.
The proposed law was generated by Joe Comartin, NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh.