Office Pools (ie March Madness, etc)

Here are a few guardrails for office pools for sporting events and tournaments in which UO athletic teams are participating: 

Under NCAA rule 10.3, it is an NCAA violation for any student-athlete, Athletics staff, or non-Athletics staff to whom Athletics reports to (e.g. President, Faculty Athletics Representative) to “wager” (bet) on any collegiate, amateur or professional games in which the NCAA conducts a championship competition:  e.g. March Madness.  If Athletics does not report to your office, it should not be an NCAA violation if your office does an office pool on the tournament wherein in no money or other thing of value is bet.  However, if your office has any student-athletes in it, those persons should not participate in the office pool at all, even if it’s just for bragging rights.

Oregon has fairly strict gambling laws that prohibit betting on games of chance.  An NCAA office pool involving the exchange of money or other things of value would implicate those gambling laws.  But as long as no money or other thing of value is being bet (i.e. just bragging rights), it is legal to have an NCAA office pool. 

If you your team registers its bracket on ESPN or any of the other bracket sights, it shouldn’t use any name that is similar to any of UO’s trademarks, like “Team Go Ducks,” or “Team UO,” etc.  That would likely be a trademark infringement, unless your team received a license from UO’s Trademark and Brand Management Department.

Incidental personal use of UO email is allowed under UO’s Acceptable Use Policy.  But UO equipment, including UO email, generally may not be used at all for personal commercial activity.  If any money or things of value were to exchange hands in your office pool, that would be considered “commercial activity,” so UO email should not be used for that.  However, if no commercial activity is occurring (just for bragging rights at issue), UO email could be used.

Although not a legal issue, there is a significant amount of research on the lost productivity caused by employees checking scores, watching games, etc. during March Madness, and some HR professionals therefore recommend that employers not encourage office pools.  But other articles suggest activities like small office pools are fun team-building exercises that enhance morale.