A Sports Illustrated report published Monday uncovered new information about this spring’s Alabama baseball sports betting controversy, and the additional details explain how former Crimson Tide head coach Brad Bohannon and Bert Neff Jr. were quickly caught for suspicious wagering activity.
Neff Jr. was not only in contact with Bohannon shortly before the first pitch of Alabama’s April 28 game against top-ranked and eventual national champion LSU, but according to the report, he also tried to wager more than $100,000 on it at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The size of the attempted wager drew the immediate attention of sportsbook employees, as the entire monthly handle in April for BetMGM’s retail sportsbook at Great American Ball Park was just $98,810. The sportsbook staff declined to accept Neff’s wager, as most sportsbooks have betting limits — especially on niche sports like college baseball.
If wanting to wager six figures on a regular-season college baseball game didn’t raise enough red flags, Sports Illustrated reported that Neff begged BetMGM staffers to let him bet on the game, even telling sportsbook personnel that he had inside information. The information came from a text conversation with Bohannon that said Alabama’s projected starting pitcher, Luke Holman, would miss the Friday start. The conversation was visible on security cameras inside the retail sportsbook, according to Sports Illustrated.
The details of the incident quickly led to an investigation by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the state’s sports betting regulator, and the probe remains ongoing.
“The commission does plan to share its findings once our investigation is complete. However, we haven’t landed on whether that will take place during a meeting or at some other press event,” said Jessica Franks, the OCCC’s director of communications. “Given the interest in this case and our findings, we’ll try to give as much notice as possible.”
Impact felt across college baseball
Neff is the father of University of Cincinnati baseball player Andrew Neff. A pair of Cincinnati assistant coaches were fired this spring, with Sports Illustrated reporting that the coaches knew of Neff’s wagering activity but failed to report it to administrators. Head coach Scott Googins resigned in late May.
There’s no indication that players at Alabama, Cincinnati, or LSU made illicit wagers.
In a new development, the Sports Illustrated report also says that Xavier University’s baseball program is under an NCAA investigation related to Neff. The exact details of the Xavier investigation are unclear, and the NCAA declined to comment on its existence when Sports Handle asked, citing the organization’s confidentiality rules related to pending, current, or potential investigations.
Xavier went 39-25 this year, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament as the Big East champion.
In addition to possible OCCC penalties, Bohannon will likely receive a notable punishment from the NCAA for sharing inside information with a bettor, which is a prohibited act.
It’s possible the schools involved could also receive punishments from the NCAA depending on what various investigations uncover. Based on currently available information, Bohannon and Neff stand to receive the biggest penalties.
Recently, the NCAA tweaked its rules around student-athlete wagering. The updated regulations maintain strict consequences for athletes and coaches who wager on their own sports or provide inside information to bettors, but the new rules reduce potential suspensions for student-athletes who wager on sports other than their own.
The NCAA has yet to publicly levy punishments for reported wagering violations at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, but the reduced penalty structure could bode well for some athletes at the two Power Five schools. Those violations didn’t compromise the integrity of any games, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.