Point Shaving Briefly Revisited

Posted on April 4, 2007 by


Back in December I reviewed a published article by Justin Wolfers examining point shaving in NCAA basketball. Not all of our readers were impressed with the paper and one actually stated that I “…should be ashamed to support this research.”

I am not. Economics clearly argues that incentives work, and college players – especially those without a serious chance of playing professionally – have an incentive to shave points since the short-term benefits of being paid to point shave are greater than the short-term costs of point shaving. I think that given this incentive that it is a tribute to college athletes that more point shaving does not occur.

The Sports Economist blog from April 1st (no foolin’) shows that a running back at the University of Toledo has been charged with recruiting players to point shave and fix games. I think it is a shame that any player (college or pro) shave points or fix games, but the real shame is on the NCAA. College athletes – like men’s basketball and football – who generate large sums of money for their schools are not receiving a salary for their time and effort. This lack of payment occurs so that the NCAA can maintain the appearance that college games are amateur contests. Who does the NCAA think they are fooling? If the NCAA was willing to paying college athletes this would substantially reduce the incentive of point shaving.

You can read more about this story HERE and HERE (hat tip to Skip Sauer from The Sports Economist).

Stacey Brook