Intrigue Deepens in College Baseball Gambling Scandal

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This month, I wrote a few articles about the scandal surrounding sports betting that rocked the University of Alabama baseball. It appeared at first that this was just another scandal involving the Crimson Tide, but in reality, it is the tip of an iceberg relating to gambling at the college level.

Here’s a brief recap for the uninitiated. The gambling integrity companies noticed unusual betting activity at the Cincinnati Reds Great American Ballpark in April involving a baseball match between Alabama and Louisiana State University. A subsequent investigation revealed that someone from Ohio had been in contact with Brad Bohannon at the time he was the head coach of Alabama. The university fired him.

The scandal in question was complex because it involved bets that were placed 861 miles from the actual game and gambling authorities from Ohio, Indiana Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Nevada intervened to report the suspicious bets. They also banned further wagers on Alabama games. Recent developments may have made the story more interesting.

The University of Cincinnati announced on Thursday that two baseball staffers were let go following an investigation into possible NCAA investigations.

ESPN reports that “In a Wednesday statement, the school announced that assistant coach Kyle Sprague was relieved of his duties on May 17” and “Director of Operations Andy Nagel had been relieved from their duties as well.” The school stated that it had begun an internal review on potential NCAA violations involving the baseball team’s program as early as May 8, and the review continues.

The university did not say much, other than that “UC is working with the NCAA on this matter”, and that they would “not be commenting further at this point.”

The University of Cincinnati is making headlines for its actions, especially when you consider that the suspicious betting surrounding the Alabama-LSU match took place in the Major League Ballpark of Cincinnati. Both incidents appear to be unrelated, but they are linked by one man.

ESPN reported that Bert Neff, a resident of Mooresville, Ind. had connections to the scandals in Alabama and Cincinnati. The report states that “surveillance videos from the Cincinnati Reds Great American Ballpark’s sportsbook indicated that the person who placed bets at the time was in communication with Bohannon.”

The report adds: “A person familiar with the investigation told the AP Friday that Neff is the person who made those bets.”

Sports Illustrated reported that anonymous sources said that the two Cincinnati employees were fired for their “knowledge about Neff’s gaming activity, which they did not report to the school administrators.”

Neff is a baseball coach with years of experience. He also has contacts in Indiana and elsewhere. Andrew, Neff’s son, is a pitcher with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. He didn’t play this season.

Sports Illustrated points out that “Neff’s gambling activities could have criminal repercussions that go beyond NCAA inquiries.”

Jon Duncan, NCAA vice president for enforcement, told Sports Illustrated that gambling-related offenses in college sports are on the increase. Duncan said that you can “throw a net” and find any number of colleges committing such infractions. It will be interesting to see how the scandals unfold and if there are even more than we already know.