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5 Things to Know: Bill Would Ban College Prop Bets in NC

...and four more stories from April 28-May 4, 2024

UNC Tar Heels, a team that has complained about the effects of prop bets in college, play a basketball game against Michigan
A bill submitted Thursday would ban North Carolina residents from placing proposition wagers, known as prop bets, on college sports. (Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon/Creative Commons)

Bill Would Ban College Prop Bets in NC

NC State Rep. Marcia Morey, a Democrat from Durham and former collegiate and Olympic athlete herself, submitted a bill on Thursday that would ban North Carolina residents from placing proposition wagers, known as prop bets, on college sports.

Prop bets allow bettors to gamble on a player’s individual statistic categories rather than an entire team, meaning someone can bet on whether a specific player will score over or under 17 points in a given game, for example. House Bill 967 would ban all such bets on amateur and college sports while also banning any in-person betting at a sports facility where a college game is taking place for eight hours before the game starts and eight hours after it ends.

The bill, a first attempt at course correction by any state lawmaker since sports gambling was legalized statewide on March 11, comes in response to complaints from college athletes about the harassment that comes as a result of prop betting. Analysts have also voiced concerns that college athletes, a vast majority of whom are unpaid, are more susceptible to point-shaving schemes and other stat-fixing plots.

Armando Bacot of the UNC Tar Heels told members of the media during the NCAA tournament that he was harassed mercilessly after failing to grab enough rebounds to cover the “over” on his prop bet in a game against Michigan State. On March 27, NCAA President Charlie Baker called on all states to ban prop bets in college sports.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes getting harassed,” Baker said in a statement that he posted to social media.

A former U.S. Olympic swimmer and NCAA enforcement staffer, Morey was a vocal opponent of efforts to legalize mobile sports betting statewide.

Republicans, who currently hold a supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly, have publicly stood against Morey’s efforts at reforming the relatively new law. State Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County, told WNCN-TV that he believes a college player prop ban is “a solution in search of a problem.”

Republicans Moving to Expand Controversial School Voucher Program

On Monday, the NC Senate Appropriations Committee (NCSAC) approved a bill that would more than double the amount of money allocated toward a private school voucher program that Republicans expanded last year to allow higher-income families to apply for state funding to offset the costs of private school tuition, taking much-needed funds from state public schools.

The bill would put another $248 million in the coming year toward eliminating a wait list of about 54,900 applicants who are waiting to receive money to attend private or religious K-12 schools.

“Public schools are the cornerstone of communities across our state. It is where we teach everyone the basics, nurture student curiosity, and prepare them with important life skills,” wrote Tamika Walker Kelly, president of the NC Association of Educators, in response to the NCSAC private school voucher proposal. “Yet our state lawmakers’ plan to spend more than $500 million of taxpayer money on private school vouchers next year will take vital opportunities away from the 85% of our K-12 students that go to public schools. Rather than funding posh private schools, imagine how much brighter our students’ future would be if lawmakers invested in their public schools.”

In the meantime, the National Education Association on Thursday released its annual report on state educator pay and public education spending. North Carolina fell two spots in the teacher pay rankings, dropping to 38th in the nation. The state’s average teacher salary ($56,559) comes in at almost $13,000 below the national average. NC’s starting teacher salaries ($40,136) rank 42nd in the nation and sit almost $15,000 below the minimum living wage. While teacher salaries nationwide rose an average of 4.1% over the year, North Carolina’s average increased only 3.1% despite revenue surpluses.

“One of the first things Republicans in the Senate prioritized in this short session was to hand out $500 million of your taxpayer dollars to give wealthy people taxpayer funded vouchers,” wrote North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton in response to Monday’s news about the vouchers. “It is a slap in the face to students, hard-working public school staff, and all North Carolinians.”

Emerging Cities Champions Application Process Launches

The Knight Emerging Cities Champions program is currently accepting applications in Charlotte. The fellowship program targets young “civic innovators” ages 18 to 35 with innovative ideas to revitalize downtowns, enhance public spaces and foster economic opportunities.

In Charlotte, projects in the West End will be given priority. Recipients will receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement one community project in one year as well as a $500 tech bundle to support their project activities. The program, which is powered by 8 80 Cities, begins with a trip to Toronto, Canada that will offer Champions the training and tools they need to implement their community initiatives effectively.

Applications close on May 27. Knight’s program director Charles Thomas will host an info session for interested applicants at The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary on May 15 from 5:30-7 p.m.

Three People Killed in Traffic-Related Incidents

Three people were killed in traffic-related incidents this week, including two unidentified people who perished in a fiery one-vehicle wreck in University City.

At approximately 12:33 a.m. on Sunday, first responders were called to a wreck on Albemarle Road just past Wilgrove Mint Hill Road in far east Charlotte, where they found a 2008 Toyota Highlander in the westbound lanes with extensive damage. The driver and sole occupant of the Toyota, 31-year-old Jared Jamer Sibby, was ejected from the vehicle. Medic transported Sibby to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Sibby was traveling westbound on Albemarle Road, speeding, when he lost control of his vehicle and went off the left side of the road. The vehicle overturned multiple times, ejecting Sibby.

At approximately 2:26 a.m. on Tuesday, first responders were called to a similar scene on Old Concord Road near Orr Road in University City, where they located a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer with extensive damage and on fire. After firefighters extinguished the fire, two occupants were located inside of the vehicle deceased.

A preliminary investigation indicated that the Chevrolet was traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Old Concord Road when the driver lost control. The vehicle then veered off the right side of the road, struck a tree and caught on fire. Excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the crash. The victims have not yet been identified at the time of this writing. That makes 21 traffic-related fatalities on Charlotte streets thus far this year.

Tragic Police Shootout Adds to Climbing Homicide Total

The deadliest week for law enforcement in Charlotte’s history added to a growing tally that nearly doubles the amount of homicides thus far in 2024 compared to the same point in 2023.

On Monday, three US Marshals and one CMPD officer were killed and four more law enforcement officers injured after a suspect or suspects opened fire on members of the Fugitive Task Force who had showed up to serve a warrant at an east Charlotte home on Monday afternoon. You can read our latest coverage of that tragic incident here.

The previous day in west Charlotte, shortly before 2:30 a.m., officers responded to a shooting call on Douglas Drive in the Eagle Lake area south of the airport, where they discovered 21-year-old Bryan Eakin dead from a gunshot wound. Three days later, a 20-year-old woman was arrested and charged with Eakin’s murder.

Then on Thursday, at approximately 10:44 p.m., officers responded to a shooting call on Hoover Drive in the Nevin area of north Charlotte, where they found a man dead from gunshot wounds. He has not yet been identified at the time of this writing.

That murder made 53 in total this year compared to 28 at the same point last year.

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