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Povich Center

Merrill College's Povich Center, Howard Center, CNS Project ‘Gambling on Campus’ Wins IRE, APSE Awards

COLLEGE PARK — “Gambling on Campus," a wide-ranging investigation into universities and sports betting published by The Shirley Povich Center for Sports JournalismHoward Center for Investigative Journalism and Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, won two prestigious national awards in less than a week.

The project won the 2023 Investigative Reporters & Editors Award in the Student - Large category, and took first place in the 2023 Associated Press Sports Editors contest in the Division D Projects category. 

The IRE judges wrote: “An impressive effort. The broad survey helped show the breadth of the investigation. This is a system story holding the universities accountable. The story also identified shortfalls, which allow universities to skirt accountability.”

The two UMD Philip Merrill College of Journalism centers surveyed 145 Division I public universities in the states where sports betting is legal to share their campus policies addressing gambling. The centers could only confirm that 23% had published sports betting policies.

“‘Gambling on Campus’ was a challenging project with most universities unwilling to share details of their sponsor agreements with sports betting companies,” said Mark Hyman, Merrill College’s George Solomon Chair in Sports Journalism and director of the Povich Center. “Our students met the challenge using their data skills and with persistent reporting. I'm grateful to IRE and APSE for recognizing their outstanding work.”

The project consists of five stories, a video narrative and other visuals from Merrill College students in Hyman’s Fall 2022 capstone class, the Howard Center and at the college’s CNS bureaus, guided by faculty editors at the college.

The stories explore college students’ sports betting habits, university policies involving sports betting, the schools entering promotional partnerships with sportsbooks, how sports betting is being advertised on college campuses, and one university that piloted a marketing initiative to combat problem gambling. 

“It's more important than ever for students to learn investigative skills,” Howard Center Director Kathy Best said. “That's why we love collaborating with the Povich Center. And this investigation had an impact. Maryland changed its laws around gambling on campus after our stories ran.”

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, established in 2011 by a gift from the Povich family,  prepares students to be innovators and leaders in all facets of sports media. The center's unique, experiential curriculum and public programs elevate and amplify discussion of race, gender, politics and the world — just as Shirley Povich did each morning in The Washington Post.

The Howard Center, launched in 2019 by a grant from the Scripps Howard Fund, gives Merrill College students the opportunity to work with news organizations across the country to report stories of national or international importance to the public.

Capital News Service is Merrill College’s student-powered news organization with bureaus and news teams in Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park and Washington, D.C.

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