Thoughts on the Iowa/Iowa State gambling scandal

Rather than make a super long off-topic post on an article, decided to make this a fan post.

Both Iowa P5 level schools are embroiled in a gambling scandal in which starting level players were using others’ accounts to place bets on games they themselves were playing in. Considering which games some of those bets were placed on it’s possible they were at times betting their their team would lose (though I haven’t seem that claim made as this is being investigated, just that the players played in those games.

I really hope none of our players in football or basketball were dumb enough to do something like that.

However that does bring to mind something I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with - legal gambling bookmakers and their proximity to official parts of the NCAA and schools’ programs. Schools and conferences have had deals in place with Sportsbooks. I know student athletes themselves aren’t supposed to be doing NIL deals with those types of firms, but for example, in addition to being so closely tied in with sports journalism they are feeding ad revenue to media companies for advertising during their coverage and broadcasts of college football games. That money is in turn going to pay these massive media deals conferences are making and schools are agreeing to. So schools are getting a piece of the pie, even without direct deals with a sportsbook, albeit a little indirectly, of the massive online bookmaking industry post-legalization. What the NCAA can control broadcast rights over, such as the NCAA tournament they’ve barred sportsbook advertisements, but that’s only a small portion of broadcasts where they specifically have a deal with the 4 networks that broadcast tournament games. Also in the cases sportsbooks have a standing deal with schools or conferences, is the fact there are no commercials really diminishing the awareness of these sportsbooks among fans of their respective schools/conferences?

You can see where these kids would get the idea that gambling at least is okay for them, and practically sanctioned by the NCAA and their respective conferences and schools. I still don’t know why they’d think it’s okay to gamble on games their playing in - if it came to light they were using inside information, point shaving, throwing games or something - or at least it appeared that way (QB bets against his own team, and has a game that’s statistically bad enough to be outside two or three standard deviations for them historically, for example) - they could face criminal investigation and possibly charges. While gambling in itself is no longer criminal, posing as somebody else to gamble could be wire fraud/unauthorized access of an electronic system/some form of conspiracy. Using insider information likely breaks some statute. Shaving points or throwing games certainly would, especially if part of a larger conspiracy. Potentially racketeering if done so with an organized group of gamblers even.

Also will be interesting to see how the NFL in turn deals with this behavior - aside from possibly affecting their draft stock, it’s not like they’ve barred those who faced suspension for PED use in college - Joe Bachie is an example; how will they treat players who got in trouble for gambling on their own games? Back in the 70’s or whatever they’d have likely gotten the Pete Rose treatment.Today, I doubt it. Same goes for future NCAA eligibility. With PEDs, that also goes to the integrity of the game - however such suspensions are typically a year. With gambling - and especially a worst case scenario like point shaving or throwing games, would that be a longer suspension? Do you go easier on somebody who bets their team would over-perform only on their own, say using a family members account? What if one of those bets was an unusually high wager for a game they knew their star QB was healthy, but no updates were provided to the public until game time? What about any of those criminally charged vs. those who aren’t? Short of a criminal prosecution, what if they were subjected to or lost a civil suit filed by a sportsbook they used?

Also how prevalent is this (gambling, not necessarily gambling on their own games) among D1 athletes, particularly those in revenue sports - was this just something that became prevalent among a certain clique between the Iowa Schools? Or if the NCAA lifted up the rock and checked out every P5 level school would they find several players on every team doing this? I just find it hard to believe it was only football players at these two P5 schools in Iowa that figured out or have been offered to engage in such a system for placing bets, or that Iowa P5 level athletes are disproportionately drawn to gambling. It truly is everywhere now, I doubt this is an Iowa P5 level football player problem, and probably something, depending on how closely the NCAA, DOJ, state attorney generals, conferences, and schools look at this issue, that a lot of fans of a lot of schools are probably going to have to reckon with. As Iowa is a member school, you could say this is already something fans of the conference are reckoning with.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.