If there's one thing that sports leagues can't stand, it's gambling. This is especially true when its players are the ones doing the betting. The University of Texas-El Paso proved this to be true, kicking three players off of their basketball program for sports betting.
Jalen Ragland, Justin Crosgile, and McKenzie Moore were all dismissed from UTEP's basketball team for betting on sports, even though investigators determined that none of the three players were shaving points from their actions in the Miners' basketball games. Once the school found out about it, they reported the players to the FBI (!), who investigated things from there.
While it hasn't been explicitly stated in any statements about the incident, one would assume that if the FBI is getting involved that the gambling that took place wasn't legal (UTEP said in a press conference that they were not privy to the information in the FBI's investigation). Even still, that hasn't been made clear, and without any match fixing having occurred, there is a NCAA rule that prohibits its unpaid interns from making their own money, this time prohibiting college athletes from betting on sports. UTEP, in a statement, acknowledged this.
To date, there was no indication that point shaving was involved. However, per NCAA rules, any type of sports gambling is prohibited and results in a one-year suspension and loss of a year of eligibility.
Here, by the way, is the NCAA's bylaw on gambling, which prohibits legal gambling, as well as fantasy sports because the NCAA should burn to the ground.
NCAA Bylaw 10.3 states that staff members of a member conference, staff members of the athletics department of a member institution and student-athletes shall not knowingly:
- Provide information to individuals involved in organized gambling activities concerning intercollegiate athletics competition;
- Solicit a bet on any intercollegiate team;
- Accept a bet on any team representing the institution;
- Solicit or accept a bet on any intercollegiate competition for any item (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) that has tangible value; or
- Participate in any gambling activity that involves intercollegiate athletics or professional athletics, through a bookmaker, a parlay card or any other method employed by organized gambling.
Examples of activities that could render a student-athlete ineligible or result in severe disciplinary action for a coach or athletics department administrator include:
- Providing information (e.g., reports concerning team morale, game plans and injuries of team members) to any individual who could assist anyone involved in organized gambling activities.
- Making a bet on any intercollegiate or professional athletics contest (e.g., participating in a fantasy sports league or sports "pool" for cash prizes, Internet gambling on sports events, sports wagering using 800 numbers).
- Accepting a bet or bribe on, or agreeing to throw, fix or illegally influence the outcome of any intercollegiate athletics contest.
- Failing to report any bribe or offer, or any knowledge of any attempt to throw or fix a game or to influence illegally its outcome.
- Participating through a bookmaker in any gambling activity (e.g., betting on a parlay card involving intercollegiate or professional athletics).
Of course, any other human old enough to enter a sports book could bet on and profit from sporting events that they weren't directly involved in, but if anyone but the fat cats in the NCAA's offices were to make a dime off of college sports, especially the athletes, there must be a punishment.
With the banned players all being upperclassmen, the suspension and lost year of eligibility will effectively end their careers, even though they, didn't do anything to fix games. For a sports conglomerate that allows one quarter long suspensions for drugs and other more serious crimes than gambling, this seems petty at best from the NCAA. There has to be more to this, right? Actually, nevermind, there doesn't have to be any rhyme or reason for the NCAA to reprimand people.
Interestingly enough, UTEP is currently coached by Tim Floyd, who had 21 wins vacated at USC for providing improper benefits to lure O.J. Mayo to play for him.
UPDATE: I asked UTEP's Senior Associate Athletic Director Jeff Darby about the lack of attention being paid to the situation on the program's web site, which he attributed to not having a chance to put something on the site. Below is the current headlining story on the Miners' web site. I appreciate Darby responding so quickly despite being surely swamped with this situation, but I can't help but feel like a gambling scandal that rocked the basketball program is a drop everything type of thing.
UPDATE (8:58 p.m.): Darby, or someone within the athletic department, updated the web site. That was awkward.