2022 March Madness Debut of College Stars Profiting Off Their Likeness

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Posted on: March 23, 2022, 12:26h. 

Last updated on: March 23, 2022, 12:27h.

The 2022 March Madness NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the first year that college students are permitted to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). And at least one casino is already in on the expanded advertising game.

Gonzaga odds March Madness NCAA NIL
Gonzaga basketball star Drew Timme stars in a commercial for the Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Spokane, Washington. The commercials are airing in select markets during the NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament. (Image: Northern Quest Resort & Casino)

The NCAA last year lifted a longtime ban on allowing college athletes to profit off of their NIL. The association did so after being pushed by state lawmakers and federal courts, which criticized the governing body and their member schools for reaping the billions of dollars in television revenue such athletes generate for the institutions each year.

Gonzaga, the top overall seed in the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, is the betting front-runner to win the national championship at +220. Coach Mark Few’s star player — Drew Timme — is one such player already making money through the NIL program.

Timme stars in a series of TV commercials for the Northern Quest Resort & Casino. The tribal casino is less than 10 miles from the Gonzaga campus in Spokane, Washington.


Timme’s casino commercials, which are only airing in select markets in the Spokane region, touch on the NCAA’s previously most taboo subject — gambling.

The NCAA led the federal lawsuit against New Jersey after the state moved to legalize sports betting more than a decade ago. The “et al” in the NCAA lawsuit included the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, which additionally opposed the legal expansion of sports betting. The sports leagues argued that widespread sports gambling would jeopardize the integrity of their games.

The US Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of New Jersey. The high court concluded that PASPA — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 — violated anti-commandeering interpretations of the US Constitution.

Sports betting became a state right following the historic May 2018 SCOTUS ruling. The decision essentially forced the NCAA and big four pro sports leagues into changing their thinking surrounding legal sports betting.

A massive embrace of the regulated gaming industry has since ensued, and that’s highlighted by the Timme casino spots.

Not everyone is in favor of such marketing. Jeffrey Derevensky, director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at Montreal’s McGill University, says he was surprised to learn of the Timme casino commercials.

Here you have student-athletes that are endorsing or representing casinos where we’re trying to get student-athletes not to engage in gambling,” Derevensky told The Wall Street Journal.

Though the NCAA allows its student-athletes to partner with casinos for advertising purposes, the body continues to prohibit such athletes from betting money on any sport — collegiate or professional — in which the NCAA conducts a national championship. That means NCAA athletes are not supposed to be betting on football, basketball, or even fencing.

Sweet 16

As for the rest of us, March Madness gets back on the hardwood tomorrow with the Sweet 16. No. 1 Gonzaga tips off the action against No. 4 Arkansas. The Bulldogs are favored by 9.5 points.

As for the remaining teams and their title odds, after Gonzaga at +220 Kansas has the next-shortest championship odds at +425. Rounding out the top five are Arizona +550 and Purdue and Houston at +900.

Cinderella Saint Peters, a 15 seed, is the longest at +25000. A winning $10 bet on that line and the Peacocks achieving the unthinkable would net $2,500.

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