NCAA Levies Penalties In Baseball Scandal Involving Ohio Sportsbook

Written By TJ McBride on February 6, 2024
A picture of two shadowy figures in front of the NCAA logo.

The Alabama baseball sports betting scandal put the state of Ohio in the middle of the controversy.

The NCAA doled stiff punishments to former Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon and sports bettor Bert Neff. The duo was involved in a sports betting scandal stemming from Neff’s bets at an Ohio sportsbook.

It was among the few negative incidents in the young Ohio sports betting industry.

Last year, during a series between Alabama and Louisiana State University, Neff placed large wagers on one of the games. He wagered the money after receiving insider information from Bohannon on the status of the team’s starting pitcher.

As a result, the Ohio Casino Control Commission paused college baseball betting while they conducted an investigation.

Last November, both were placed on Ohio’s involuntary self-exclusion list. Therefore, neither Bohannon nor Neff could wager on sports in Ohio.

Now, the NCAA has levied penalties in the case that made national headlines.

Both Bohannon and Neff face several charges

The Ohio sports betting market is just over a year old. In the last 12 months, the OCCC dealt with several issues in its authority to regulate the industry. None have been bigger than the Alabama baseball scandal.

The NCAA says Bohannon violated the body’s wagering and ethical conduct rules when he told Neff about an injury to the team’s starting pitcher before Alabama’s game last April without informing the public. Neff then placed bets on the game at the BetMGM Sportsbook at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Besides the ban by the OCCC, Neff was charged with one count of obstructing a federal investigation by the Northern Alabama District Court. He allegedly tampered with witnesses, lied to federal officers and destroyed evidence. Neff was said to have purposely destroyed his phone on two occasions after speaking with Bohannon about the game and the $100,000 of wagers he placed on it.

The NCAA has now finished its investigation and levied penalties against Bohannon, who was fired immediately after word got out about his involvement. Vince Nicastro, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Big East, made a statement after the NCAA released its findings.

“Integrity of games is of the utmost importance to NCAA members, and the panel is deeply troubled by Bohannon’s unethical behavior. Coaches, student-athletes and administrators have access to information deemed valuable to those involved in betting. Improperly sharing that information for purposes of sports betting cuts to the heart of the honesty and sportsmanship we expect of our members and is particularly egregious when shared by those who have the ability to influence the outcome of games.”

Bohannon receives a 15-year show-cause order from NCAA

The NCAA’s penalties against Bohannon include:

  • Three years of probation
  • $5,000 fine
  • 15-year show-cause order

During a show-cause order, any employer must restrict Bohannon from any position related to athletics. If Bohannon becomes employed by an NCAA-sanctioned team during the show-cause period, he is automatically suspended for five regular seasons.

Those penalties are all in addition to the OCCC placing Bohannon and Neff on the state’s involuntary self-exclusion list. OCCC Executive Director Matthew Schuler said during a meeting that both are a risk to the state.

“The notices allege that Bert Neff Jr and Brad Bohannon’s presence in a sports gaming facility and their participation in the play of sports gaming poses a threat to the interests of the state of Ohio to achieve the intents and purposes of the sports, gaming control law, and to the strict and effective regulation of sports gaming.”

Alabama will retain EPIC Global Solutions to provide a comprehensive gambling harm and student-athlete protection education program for student-athletes, coaches and athletics administrators.

OCCC has also levied fines against Penn and DraftKings

Neff’s actions have had an impact beyond the University of Alabama. His son plays baseball at the University of Cincinnati, and Neff was found to have discussed gambling with two coaches: Kyle Sprague and Andy Nagel.

While discussing gambling is not illegal, both coaches were obligated to report Neff’s activities to the athletic department or the NCAA. Keeping those parties in the dark led to their dismissal. Neff’s son has since entered the transfer portal.

The OCCC has also recently fined Penn Sports Interactive and DraftKings for targeting colleges or individuals under 21 years old through marketing. Penn promoted its former Barstool Sportsbook Ohio mobile app at an event aimed at college students. DraftKings mailed advertisements to individuals who were under 21 years old.

Penn Vice President and CCO Chris Soriano apologized on behalf of the company and accepted the blame.

“We accept responsibility for that by reading the advertisement during the Barstool College Football Show. We recognize that we have violated the Ohio regulations and Ohio law regarding this, and again. we admit that we have fallen short of the mark.”

Ohio has also had reports of college athletes receiving harassment and toxic messages from sports bettors, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. The NCAA is asking the OCCC to reverse its rules on allowing prop bets on individual student-athlete’s achievements.

Photo by AP Photo / Mark Humphrey
TJ McBride Avatar
Written by
TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter who covers sports betting for PlayOhio. His work has been featured on ESPN, CBS Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and Yahoo Sports, among others.

View all posts by TJ McBride