More than two dozen University of Iowa and Iowa State University student-athletes are suspected of betting on sports online.
According to NCAA policy, student-athletes, coaches, and staff members can’t bet on sports. One Hawkeye employee is also being investigated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
The probe comes on the heels of Alabama firing baseball coach Brad Bohannon last week over allegations of suspicious sports wagering activities. Iowa officials say the incidents are much different and totally unrelated.
Iowa gaming officials say there’s no evidence of game fixing
Sports betting began in Iowa in 2019. It really took off in 2020, including Iowa online sports betting, which became the preferred method for wagering on sports in Iowa. The popularity of online betting increased again in 2021 after the state no longer required in-person registering of online accounts.
The state’s Board of Regents confirmed the bets were made online.
“The Board of Regents is aware of concerns related to online gambling involving individuals associated with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. The Board of Regents and the universities will fully cooperate with any investigations related to these concerns. We are closely monitoring the situation and have confidence that university administrators at each institution will take necessary steps to ensure ongoing compliance.”
Brian Ohorilko of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission told Action Network that the wagering was not on games involving Iowa sports teams. The incident at Alabama allegedly involved a wager on an Alabama-LSU baseball game.
“We review the types of wagers that come in and how suspicious they are. We have no reason to believe that there’s anything like that here. There wasn’t anything giving us pause or leading us to believe that any of these markets were compromised.”
There has been no ban on betting on Iowa or Iowa State teams. That’s not the case with Alabama. FanDuel said it has stopped allowing wagers on the Crimson Tide baseball team. The state of Indiana has also suspended all bets on Alabama games and told sportsbooks to refund any future bets on Alabama baseball. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio quickly followed suit.
Investigation involves 26 student-athletes, one athletics employee
There are a total of 26 current student-athletes under investigation. They compete in several men’s sports at the two Iowa universities, including baseball, track and field, football, basketball, and wrestling. There’s also one University of Iowa athletic department employee on the list. The person is not a current or former Hawkeye coach.
Eleven of those named are student-athletes at the University of Iowa. According to the school, officials became aware of the suspected misconduct on May 2. By May 4, the school received a list of those who allegedly participated in sports wagering.
On May 5, the school notified the student-athletes currently in season that they would not be participating in upcoming competitions.
On May 8, Iowa State released a statement following the allegations.
“Iowa State University and its Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is aware of online sports wagering allegations involving 15 of our active student-athletes from the sports of football, wrestling, and track and field in violation of NCAA rules. The university has notified the NCAA and will take the appropriate actions to resolve these issues.”
Officials have not publicly named suspected bettors
The list of violators has not been made public. However, after Iowa released its statement that athletes currently playing in their seasons could no longer compete, four Hawkeye baseball players did not appear in the weekend series.
Keaton Anthony was the most notable Iowa player missing from the team’s dugout against Ohio State. Anthony is one of the team’s top players, hitting .389 with nine home runs. He has also pitched in six games, with a 2-0 record and 4.95 ERA.
Jacob Henderson, Ben Tallman, and Gehrig Christensen also reportedly missed the weekend series against the Buckeyes, according to Iowa sportswriter Kyle Huesmann.
Notable Iowa Baseball players that were not present during the Ohio State series
— Kyle Huesmann (@HuesmannKyle) May 8, 2023
It’s important to note that there’s no evidence that Anthony or any of the other players who missed the games are part of the probe. The team did not publicly say why they missed the series.
What is the case against former Alabama coach Bohannon?
Alabama fired Bohannon on May 4 after an individual placed suspicious bets on the Crimson Tide’s loss to LSU in late April.
ESPN reported that surveillance footage from the BetMGM Sportsbook at Grand America Ballpark captured a better who was allegedly in contact with Bohannon. The bettor placed two bets on LSU to beat Alabama.
Shortly before that game, Alabama opted to bench its expected starting pitcher, Luke Holman, due to back tightness. Bohannon instead started sophomore Hagan Bank, who hadn’t started since March 16.
Typically in college baseball, teams start their ace pitcher in the first game of a three-game weekend series. Holman not starting the Friday game raised suspicions.