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What we know, don’t know about Iowa, Iowa State’s sports betting investigations
NCAA has strict rules for athletes, coaches, staff on sports wagering
IOWA CITY — A day after revelations that University of Iowa and Iowa State University athletes are under investigation for online sports wagering, questions outnumber answers.
Representative from the UI, ISU, Big Ten Conference and NCAA either declined to answer or did not respond to questions about the investigations Tuesday from The Gazette. But here is what is known — and not known — at this early stage:
Related: Gambling regulators: Sports events at Iowa and Iowa State not now under suspicion
What restrictions do NCAA athletes have?
The NCAA has a wide-ranging restriction on sports betting that applies to athletes, coaches and other staff.
The NCAA’s definition of sports gambling includes “any amateur and/or professional sporting event with a chance to win something in return,” according to information published by the NCAA. It could be monetary, a meal or any other “tangible item.”
A $10 bet on who wins the Super Bowl or a fantasy football league with a $20 buy-in would be examples of NCAA violations. The same applies to a March Madness bracket challenge with any money, or even a free dinner, at stake.
Can athletes give information to friends or family who then bet?
The NCAA does not allow athletes to “share information for sports wagering purposes.”
“This includes information regarding team disciplinary actions, strategy, injuries or team morale,” the NCAA wrote. “This information is sought by gamblers.”
Iowa mentioned ‘possible criminal conduct.’ What could that include?
The UI was “notified of potential criminal conduct related to sports wagering” on May 2, according to a news release. The university has not specified what exactly was alleged.
Underage gambling — the minimum age in Iowa is 21 — is among the possible ways to break state law. The law says there is a $645 fine for violators, but “failure to pay the fine by a person under the age of eighteen shall not result in the person being detained in a secure facility.”
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said Tuesday it “does not currently have any information that would call into question the integrity” at UI or ISU sporting events.
Have any student athletes been charged with a crime?
“At this time, no criminal charges have been filed and no further information will be released,” the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a news release.
What could happen to athletes who violate the NCAA’s rules?
Athletes who violate the NCAA’s policies “will be ineligible for competition, subject to appeal to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement,” according to NCAA documents.
“Penalties will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on the guidelines for the division in which the student-athlete participates,” the NCAA document also stated.
What entity is conducting the investigation?
Iowa’s DCI is “involved” in the investigation of UI and ISU athletes, it said in a news release Tuesday.
“The DCI will work cooperatively with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission concerning any potential regulatory violations,” the agency said.
The UI said Monday it has retained outside counsel “to advise the university and potentially lead an investigation” but would not say Tuesday who that counsel is.
Does UI educate athletes and staff about the NCAA’s gambling rules?
“The athletics department provides education on NCAA rules regarding the prohibition of sports wagering as well as the potential consequences,” the UI said in a statement Monday. A UI Athletics spokesman did not further comment Tuesday on the department’s gambling education.
The NCAA also has resources available to educate athletes on its sports wagering rules as part of the “Don’t Bet on It” campaign.
Former Iowa men’s basketball player Jordan Bohannon said on Twitter the NCAA’s lack of tolerance for sports gambling is “very known.”
Very known. Every college athlete understands the harsh ramifications that comes with it. https://t.co/tICDI0Q848— Jordan Bohannon (@JordanBo_3) May 9, 2023
“Every college athlete understands the harsh ramifications that comes with it,” Bohannon said in a tweet.
Many conferences, including the Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC, employ U.S. Integrity Inc. to monitor for possible sports wagering activity. However, the Big Ten is "one of the few collegiate conferences which is not a client of U.S. Integrity," the company said in an email.
Are any coaches involved?
The UI said no former or current coaches are included in the investigation. An ISU spokesman declined to say whether any current or former Cyclone coaches are involved.
How many current athletes are involved? Which sports are involved?
Twenty-six UI athletes and 15 ISU athletes are connected with allegations of online sports betting, the universities said Monday.
ISU’s affected athletes were on football, wrestling and track and field teams. The UI’s affected athletes were on football, men’s basketball, men’s wrestling, baseball and men’s track and field teams.
The disproportionate number of male athletes in the investigation lines up with past NCAA research. An NCAA survey found 9 percent of male athletes “reported wagering on sports once a month or more,” versus 1 percent of female athletes.
Who else is a part of the investigation at the UI?
The UI “received information” about 111 people as part of the investigation.
“The vast majority of the individuals are student-staff, former student-athletes or those with no connection to UI Athletics,” according to a UI news release.
What led to these investigations?
It is unclear what entity alerted UI and ISU to the sports wagering allegations.
The UI said its leadership found out about the “potential criminal conduct” and “possible NCAA violations” on May 2. Then on May 3, “law enforcement notified the university that additional information would be provided the following day.”
On May 5, the UI sought outside legal counsel, alerted the NCAA and told “several” athletes “they would not be participating in upcoming competitions.”
Where else is this happening?
Other schools could potentially face similar scenarios.
“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Keith Whyte, the executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
But this appears different from the recent gambling scandal with Alabama’s baseball program. Alabama fired its head baseball coach Brad Bohannon after reports of alleged suspicious betting activity involving games Bohannon was coaching.