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‘Thanks, senator. You must be reading the Herald’

Well, I had no idea that The Durango Herald was so powerful. If you caught my March 10 column with the headline, “Betting, transfer rules make CU ‘Compromise University,’ ” you know I was not pleased that the University of Colorado Boulder had made a deal with PointsBet, an online gambling site. The university was making money off of their students’ gambling on sports. This should certainly not be on any list of priorities for an institution of higher learning, let alone the so-called flagship university of our great state of Colorado.

I’m happy to say that CU and the gambling firm have ended their deal. “PointsBet and the University of Colorado have decided it is mutually beneficial to end their partnership at this time,” a PointsBet spokesperson said in a statement. Their $1.625 million agreement had already been modified in January to remove a $30 referral bonus paid to the university every time somebody used its promo code and placed a bet.

The Herald and I are humbled to have been able to impact and initiate this abrupt change. We don’t want to take all of the credit. I’d like to thank my parents, my sisters, my spouse, my children, my friends and all of my teachers. The outrage came from within CU and across the country from lawmakers and educators. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to 66 of the country’s colleges and universities with the largest athletic budgets, demanding information about their efforts to form partnerships with sports betting companies, as well as what the institutions are doing to prevent underage betting and to combat gambling addiction.

Blumenthal then promptly broke his leg celebrating during the parade for the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team’s fifth national championship. We wish him well, especially since he has to celebrate Quinnipiac University’s (at Hamden, Conn.) NCAA collegiate hockey championship as well. Thanks for your help on this college gambling issue, senator. You must be reading the Herald. Quinnipiac’s hockey team captain, Zach Metsa, proudly used the NCAA championship trophy to mark his ball during the team’s celebratory outing on the golf course. It is the first NCAA title for the hockey team.

The original agreement between CU and PointsBet was decided, absent any input from the rest of the campus. In fact, neither the committee overseeing the athletic department nor Colorado’s Board of Regents knew about the deal until its press release. Let’s hope this will serve as a lesson for CU and others to gather more input before making such a decision.

The American people have a long list of successes. Just to mention a few. Our ideas have been a model for democratic nations throughout the world. The New Deal put people back to work. We helped save the world from Adolf Hitler. We have created vaccines that have pretty much eradicated some diseases – smallpox, measles, polio, plague, etc. We have dramatically reduced smoking and have created Medicare and Medicaid. We have been to the moon. We have made progress toward living up to our American dream and creed with movements including the civil rights, feminism and the LGBTQ+ community. We outlasted the Soviets in the Cold War and have had miraculous technological advances.

So, Durango, what issue shall we conquer next? CU’s original deal with PointsBet began in 2020. If we can have this kind of impact on student gambling on campuses in just a few short years, we certainly should be able to create safer environments for our children in school.

Jim Cross is a retired Fort Lewis College professor and basketball coach.