Updated: May 24
By: Sarah Overton
Edited by: Gabrielle Nordstrom
Courtesy of: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
With online sports betting sites like DraftKings and FanDuel growing in popularity, there has been a steady uptick in the number of people participating in sports wagering. In fact, in the last two weeks, the NCAA has reprimanded over 40 athletes and one coach at multiple universities nationwide for their involvement in sports betting.
On May 4, the University of Alabama fired head baseball coach Brad Bohannan after he was linked to bets made against his Crimson Tide team. Bohannon is believed to have directly communicated with someone who placed bets on the Alabama-LSU game on April 28. LSU won the game 8-6.
The parlay and money line bets were made by someone inside the sports book at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark in Ohio and were quickly flagged by betting regulators. The suspicious activity resulted in an emergency order being released by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, “prohibiting the acceptance of any wagers on University of Alabama Baseball effective immediately.”
Following a warning from U.S. Integrity, an independent sports wagering monitoring company, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New Jersey also suspended wagers on Alabama baseball games.
After Bohannon’s involvement in the sports betting situation was uncovered, his decision to scratch Alabama starting pitcher Luke Holman has been under extreme scrutiny.
Holman is one of the top-ranked pitchers in the SEC and was reportedly scratched an hour before the Alabama-LSU game due to back tightness. He was replaced by sophomore Bagan Hanks, who had not started a game since March 16.
Many speculate that Holman being scratched was due to Bohannon’s betting involvement. However, ESPN reports that there is no reason to believe any student-athletes were aware of the situation and actively participating in it.
Bohannon served as the Crimson Tide’s head coach for five years and was on contract with the university through 2025. He went 166-124 during his tenure, including a 30-15 record this season.
Former University of Alabama baseball head coach Brad Bohannon argues with umpire Joe Harris after being ejected in the second inning of the Alabama-LSU game on April 29. Courtesy of: Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP
Less than one week after Bohannon’s firing, the news broke about a sports wagering investigation involving 41 student-athletes from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.
At Iowa, 26 male Hawkeye student-athletes in baseball, basketball, football, track and field, and wrestling were flagged by the Iowa Racing and Game Commission. One full-time Iowa athletics department employee is also involved in the scandal. At Iowa State, 15 male Cyclone student-athletes in football, track and field and wrestling were also flagged.
As the investigation continues, Hawkeye and Cyclone athletes that compete in spring sports are being withheld from competition.
However, Iowa Racing and Gambling Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko stated there was no reason to believe that Iowa or Iowa State athletes bet on their own teams.
“I can tell you that there hasn’t been any information or issues that have raised any doubt with the integrity of any of the markets involving the two universities,” Ohorilko told reporters at The Athletic. “That’s different than what we received regarding the LSU-Alabama game.”
The NCAA has very clear and strict rules about student-athletes, coaches and other athletic staff and their participation in sports wagering.
According to its bylaws, the NCAA prohibits athletes, coaches, and staff, from wagering on “competition (intercollegiate, amateur or professional) in a sport in which the [NCAA] conducts championship competition… “ or providing “... information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition.”
This means that Bohannon’s communication with a sports bettor in Ohio and any sports wagering done by an NCAA athlete is a direct infringement of the NCAA bylaws.
Many critics say that the NCAA’s betting policy is outdated since 33 states have now legalized sports wagering. Nonetheless, the NCAA is adamant that “sports wagering has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests….”