Table of Contents

    The University of Alabama fired its baseball coach Brad Bohannon amid his involvement in bets on Alabama’s April 28th showdown against LSU. Alabama released a statement regarding the reason for Bohannon’s dismissal, claiming he violated “the standards, duties, and responsibilities expected of University employees.” The firing of Bohannon is the first significant college sports betting controversy since the May 2018 Supreme Court overturning the federal ban on sports betting. In the wake of this discovery, some have questioned how the NCAA protects the integrity of collegiate competition and, more importantly, how these infractions were identified. 

    Follow The Money

    Ohio betting controllers instructed a halt on all bets on Alabama baseball games on May 1st due to “suspicious wagering activity” surrounding Alabama vs. LSU baseball game on April 28th. According to the Associated Press, a Louisiana Gaming Official received an email alert from U.S. Intergrity, a gaming monitoring company, that large wagers were made at a Sportsbook in the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Stadium in favor of LSU being victorious in the contest. Once the activity was reported to U.S. Integrity, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New Jersey, sportsbooks were forced to take Alabama baseball games off their wagering boards. Matthew Holt, who is the President of U.S. Integrity, expressed that some states are used to handling these incidents in this fashion; he states, “You have to remember this is really new in a lot of these states, and they’re still figuring out how they want to handle it, you know, not surprisingly, the more experienced states, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they know that the safest bet when there’s a potential issue is to take that event off the board.”

    U.S. Integrity partners with gaming entities, such as state regulators, sportsbooks, and professional leagues, to monitor gaming transactions. U.S. Integrity provides tremendous value as it can process large amounts of data, real-time odds, and track irregularities. Holt gives additional context to U.S Integrity’s different utilizations, “All kinds of information, some of which human beings are looking through, some of which the machines are identifying using algorithms.“ The second way alerts are catalyzed, which is what happened in this instance, is operators identify some type of abnormal, nefarious, suspicious activity.”

    The State of College Sports Betting 

    In the past, college athletes have been involved in scoring infraction incidents. The Associated Press reported no involvement with baseball players at LSU or Alabama. The NFL suspended Detroit Lions wide receiver, Jameson Williams, for betting on college athletic contests in their facility. This case involving Bohannon’s case is unique because you have a coach involved in betting on a college game. In addition, ESPN obtained surveillance footage of the individual communicating with Bohannon on specific wagers on the game. The NCAA has a zero-tolerance policy regarding athletes and athletic department employees on gambling. Sportsbooks have backed off from partnering with colleges due to the threat of illegal underage betting. With these partnerships becoming problematic for some schools, athletic conferences like the Mid-American Conferences have sought other sports betting revenue streams through a licensing rights deal with Genius Sports. Genius Sports will sell this data to sportsbooks as part of the deal. Moving forward, as much as this case will be seen as an example of transparency within sports betting, I am afraid that there will be more cases similarly within college sports due to its growing popularity, there are more opportunities to generate revenue off college sports, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. 

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