Game on or game fixed? Suspicious betting casts doubt over NCAA Tournament | Eastern North Carolina Now

By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
March 22, 2023

After North Carolina lawmakers voted to legalize online sports gambling last year, the push was on to make sure that bets could be placed in time for March Madness 2024, which got underway on Tuesday. But the run-up to the popular NCAA tournament has already been marred by suspicious betting patterns that have landed two mens’ basketball teams  – Temple University in Philadelphia and Loyola University in Maryland – under investigation. 

The Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency told Sports Illustrated that Loyola(Md.) was being investigated after which the university announced that it had removed a person from its basketball program having discovered a gambling violation. The announcement did not identify the violator. 

Just a day prior, U.S. Integrity had sounded the alarm on Temple, when the betting line moved from the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a 1.5-point favorite to UAB as an eight-point favorite. The Blazers wound up beating the Temple Owls, 100-72.

According to media reports, U.S. Integrity is eyeing at least four of Temple’s games and has been monitoring the university’s program “for a while.”

“All we know for sure is that something very odd and extremely suspicious happened before UAB-Temple. And it still emits a terrible odor,” wrote New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick. He points to some unusual in-game stats including the fact that UAB outrebounded Temple, 41-19 with 10 offensive rebounds to Temple’s one. 

“Impossible to ignore as rebounds so often reflect effort,” Mushnick writes. He goes on to report that, “Several players, in a losing season and with minimal professional basketball futures — not to mention the get-rich-quick commercial prompts that daily flood their senses — appeared to have had exceptionally bad games.”

According to CBS News, “a game being flagged for unusual betting activity is not itself incriminating, but in recent history, U.S. Integrity stepping in for a game has not portended well for bad actors.”

U.S. Integrity was also involved in calling out the Alabama baseball betting scandal that led to the firing of coach Brad Bohanon last May.

The Associated Press reports that “the growth of legal sports betting in the U.S., especially among college-aged people, has prompted concerns about increased stress on athletes and raised the potential for wrongdoing.”

The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the suspicious betting patterns and the resulting probes are anything but surprising.

“The underlying driving force behind the popularity of gambling is rooted in covetousness, a direct violation of the Tenth Commandment and a manifestation of an unhealthy obsession with material possessions, wealth, and status. Furthermore, the mainstream acceptance of gambling reflects a departure from absolute moral principles, with society increasingly doubting the power of patience, hard work, and perseverance to shape personal destinies,” Creech said. “This erosion of confidence is particularly noticeable among younger generations, as we witness a shift towards a mindset that places more faith in luck, chance, and fatalism, while becoming less religious and more superstitious.”

He says the investigations at Loyola and Temple on the eve of North Carolina’s legalization of sports gambling further validate the CAL’s longstanding concerns regarding the negative ramifications of gambling expansion.

“The Christian Action League vehemently opposed the legislation for sports gambling, acknowledging its potential to foster corruption, exploit vulnerable individuals, and undermine the integrity of sports,” Creech said. “These recent cases underscore the inherent dangers associated with widening access to gambling activities, which can facilitate manipulation and unethical conduct within the realm of sports.”

The CAL remains unwavering in its commitment to advocate for policies that prioritize the well-being of communities and safeguard against the harms of gambling addiction and corruption. Learn more about the League’s efforts to slow the spread of gambling.


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