Numerous NCAA Athletes Under Investigation Amid Iowa Sports Betting Scandal

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Iowa State is the subject of an Iowa sports betting scandal.

Another NCAA gambling scandal is officially under investigation. And this one has to do with athletes who allegedly participated in online sports betting in Iowa.

Though the process has been going on for some time, it received some renewed scrutiny this week, when Iowa State's football team held their media day. Starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers was noticeably absent from the festivities, and it has left many wondering whether he's involved.

To be sure, this is just speculation. And a player missing media is far from unprecedented. It happens all the time. Right now, we do not have concrete confirmation about the specific individuals who are linked to the Iowa sports betting scandal. 

What we know for sure, though, is that both Iowa and Iowa State announced all the way back in May that athletes attending both schools apparently placed bets with an online operator. At the time, Iowa State said the investigation revealed that "approximately 15" active athletes allegedly submitted wagers violating NCAA rules and rules regulations. Among those involved, at least one is expected to be a football player, which explains why Dekkers' absence from Big 12 Media Day received so much attention.

Are any other details emerging from this Iowa sports betting investigation? What penalties could the unnamed athletes face if they're found to have violated NCAA gambling rules? And above all, does the NCAA have to do a better job of regulating and enforcing their sports betting policies? Going one step further, does the NCAA have a gambling scandal problem? Let's see what answers, if any, we can find.

Iowa State Coach Doesn't Shed Any Clarity on Sports Betting Investigation

Iowa State's head football coach, Matt Campbell, was asked about the sports betting investigation at media day. He was also pressed about the status of his QB1. The answer he provided to these inquiries did not shed any light on the process.

From Yahoo Sports:

"'Yeah, you know, right now for us, that investigation is ongoing,' Campbell said. 'Just continues to not really have a lot of clarity to it, but I think we're getting closer to getting clarity. The appreciation that I have is they've kind of given me the opportunity to be removed from that process and just give me the results once the results come our way. I think what I would just say for any of our young men that either are or aren't involved in this is it's a great learning lesson. Part of what I love about teaching is you're teaching 18- to 22-year-old young men. There's rules and regulations. We'll kind of learn what happened in that situation here shortly, but it's a great teaching moment, and how to handle things when it doesn't go well, and how do you respond from that. Once it's time to have clarity to that and then respond to that the right way, I know our football team and certainly the young men in our team will do a great job of that."

Some have interpreted the ambiguity or evasiveness in Campbell's answer as confirmation of Dekker's involvement. We won't do that. As Campbell notes, he's coaching 18- to 22-year-olds. It's not fair to blindly speculate on their fate.

If we take anything away from his answer, it's that the investigation should be wrapping up soon. When it does, we'll all be able to provide more commentary on the matter. For now, we only know that a bunch of students were allegedly betting on sports in Iowa. And that, naturally, raises another question?

Does This Iowa Sports Betting Scandal Prove That the NCAA Has a Problem?

Iowa and Iowa State are not the only universities that have faced sports betting scandals. Far from it, in fact. Just this last spring, two members from the University of Cincinnati's baseball staff were fired amid Ohio sports betting allegations. Organizations are even dealing with it at a professional level—especially in the NFL. There have been various infractions made by players over the past couple of years, including this one. Most recently, a couple of Indianapolis Colts players were waived for betting on NFL games last season.

Unfortunately, this feels like a natural next step in the evolution of sports betting. Gambling is so accessible nowadays. Pretty much everyone has the ability to sign up with one of the best online sportsbooks in the United States, even if they live somewhere wagering isn't technically legal. And with more than 30 states actually offering legal betting, it was only a matter of time before we encountered allegations featuring athletes—some of whom, in this case, might even be underage.

Figuring out what to do from here gets difficult. States are certainly thinking about it. And so is the NCAA as a whole. They recently increased the severity of punishment for those who violate their gambling policies. These new penalties are as follows:

  • Players who wager between $200 and $500 will lose 10 percent of their collegiate athletics eligibility.
  • Players who wagers between $500 and $800 will lose 20 percent of one season's eligibility
  • Players who wager more than $800 can lose up to 30 percent of one season's eligibility
  • Finally, if a player "egregiously" bets over $800, the NCAA has the right to lengthen the maximum suspension beyond 30 percent

Are these punishments severe enough to make gambling among NCAA athletes prohibitive? Will the number of scandals continue trending upward in the next year? Two? Three? Is there anything else that can be done to prevent them? Should the NCAA devote more effort to implementing programs that aim to treat and prevent gambling addiction? Legal sports betting is still relatively new to the United States, which means there's a lot for the NCAA—and the country at large—to figure out.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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