Sometimes, you can't fix stupid. That was how one source involved in the investigation summarized the alleged attempt by former Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon tothrough an intermediary in April.
CBS Sports has determined, through sources, that there was an attempt to place bets totaling six figures on an Alabama-LSU game that month. Because of the casino's betting limit -- that can vary from bet-to-bet and sport-to-sport based on circumstances -- Bohannon's friend was able to bet only in the low five figures.
That was more than enough to set off alerts that led to an investigation that resulted in the coach's firing.
"Very stupid," the source said of the betting attempt. "When the facts come out of that case, everything that gentleman did was stupid."
The scandal can be viewed a couple of different ways in this new age of legalized sports gambling. Either it was an example of increased improprieties to come as we enter Year 5 of legalized state-sponsored sports wagering, or it proved the proper safeguards are in place in response to the new liberalized gambling climate.
In other words, the traps to catch such wrongdoing worked.
If that's the case, is it time for the NCAA to ease its long-standing gambling restrictions? Those rules basically state that NCAA employees, coaches, administrators and athletes cannot wager on any sport -- amateur, pro or college -- in which the association sponsors a championship.
"I think it needs to be reconsidered," said Matt Holt, president of U.S. Integrity, which is quickly becoming the go-to source of integrity monitoring in the college space. "At the end of the day, you're not really likely to have any influence. … Why can't a baseball player at LSU bet on a basketball game involving the University of Michigan?"
Such questions are being asked even in the aftermath of Alabama baseball coach's firing. Whether legalized sports betting had anything to do with that scandal is up for debate. In one sense, the perpetrators were dumb; if they didn't know they were going to raise flags, well, they should have known.
The sports gambling debate changed in 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down the 26-year-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) that limited sports betting to Nevada (and on a limited basis to Oregon, Montana and Delaware).
Enter integrity monitoring comes. The profile of Holt's company has blown up. U.S. Integrity is not the only such company tracking illegal activity. In fact, the NCAA uses its own set of integrity monitors. However, U.S. Integrity is the one that is most credible, at least for the Power Five.
Holt recently spoke at the Big 12 spring meetings and SEC spring meetings -- both in the same week. U.S. Integrity already had a hand recently in discovering the alleged improprieties at Alabama and Iowa.
"There have been what I would call 'regular visits,'" said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. "[Alabama's case] was a pivot. One of the lessons in life is, things happen, you have to adjust. We reached out to Matt to bring us up to speed on the latest, needing to adjust some of the oversight."
There continues to be evidence of changing social mores allowing what were once considered vices to become more acceptable. Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana, and the NCAA itself has softened its drug-use penalties regarding it.
Thirty-six states, plus Washington D.C., now have adopted legalized sports gambling. More than 85% of American adults agree with that Supreme Court decision, up from 63% only four years ago, according to the American Gaming Association. Almost half of those betting illegally plan to transition to legal betting, according to the AGA.
During an NIL summit earlier this month in Washington D.C., NCAA president Charlie Baker said there was a "major opportunity [for the association] to get into the sports betting space." He did not elaborate. When contacted, an NCAA spokesman said, "We do not have anything additional to add beyond the remarks."
Can the NCAA be both a watchdog and a sports gambling partner going forward? That has yet to be determined. The association does not allow gambling-related advertising (FanDuel, Draft Kings etc.) during the NCAA Tournament. However, member schools are having to make that choice on their campuses whether to take that sort of sponsorship money.
The length of a suspension for marijuana use is one thing. A decision by the NCAA to relax its gambling restrictions would be considerably difficult.
"It's a great question and one that our membership is going to continue to have to wrestle with," said Mark Hicks, the NCAA's managing director of enforcement. "We've seen an evolution with how society deals with sports betting, with also the fact that there are people that develop gambling addictions.
"Our membership is going to have to wrestle with what's the proper place for our rules on this issue."
Last year, the NCAA Interpretations Committee allowed schools and conferences to be involved in data licensing. That little-known ruling allowed the humble MAC in March 2022 to become the first FBS conference to license its data (statistics) to a third party for betting purposes. The Pac-12 signed a similar deal that same month.
Given all that, is it time for the NCAA step back and let (gambling) nature take its course? Lead1 CEO Tom McMillen, representing the FBS athletic directors, has predicted a major betting scandal because of the current climate.
Historically, there has been at least one college game-fixing/point-shaving scandal per decade since the 1940s. In recent times, only one of those has involved college football (Toledo, 2009).
"At what point, what is major," Holt countered. "We have all these scandals all the time. I don't consider them scandals. I think it's proof the system works."
Holt told CBS Sports there is one "incident" out of every 900 games. That equates to one flag -- not necessarily wrongdoing -- every 10 days.
"Are we OK with one out of every 900 events having something wrong with it?" he asked. "I don't know. It's a heck of a lot better than Europe."
It's fair to say college athletics continues to tread delicately into the legal sports betting environment. The seemingly simple act of betting transparency in college -- providing injury reports -- has been met with push back by coaches, ADs and commissioners.
Following the Supreme Court ruling five years ago, theto develop a national injury report system. It went nowhere.
"As information becomes more and more in demand because of the increases in sports gambling, we're going to have to think about a sophisticated response," Sankey said. "We're not even close to [an injury report]."
The NCAA is in the process of a wide-ranging survey on the impact of sports gambling. Its last major study was in 2016.
"There has never been greater visibility on betting activity in any sport than there is today," said Casey Clark, senior AGA vice president. "The only way any of these irregularities get caught is by increased regulation, increased oversight and increased vigilance."
But the college space is unique, fraught with tradition, distrust and uncertainty.
"Speaking personally, we need to do a better job of educated our student-athletes on what's legal and what's not legal," South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer said. "I need a reminder every spring when I get an email from our leaders at the university, 'Don't bet on March Madness.'"
Here's some education: College athletes who are betting are either oblivious or choose to ignore the likes of geolocation technology. That allows integrity monitors to track phones in a crowd. If the only crowd in a facility is a team it's easy to know from where the bets are coming.
"You're in the arena. You're in the stadium. There's no vendors, no fans. It's you," Holt said.
The NCAA monitors 13,000 contests per year. Games at all levels are so scrutinized now that it's hard to believe anything gets past the monitors. They are that sophisticated. The NCAA uses multiple integrity sources to track games. Nationally, offshore gambling remains illegal across the board.
Try to wrap your mind around something called "predictive analytics." That basically states what a score should be at any point in the game after a given result. Closing line value (CLV) has to do with how a line moves after a bet. Example: Alabama goes from a 20-point favorite at the betting window to 27 at kickoff, resulting in seven points of value for whomever got the bet at the original line.
"If a certain percentage of your bets you're always getting the better of the CLV, then [sportsbooks] may limit you," Holt said.
It doesn't address what happened at that Cincinnati sportsbook a couple of months ago. Alerts were tripped so quickly that sophisticated cameras in the sportsbook were able to identify Bohannon on the phone of the person making the bet.
At the intersection of common sense and intricate integrity monitoring, maybe there is another factor to consider before the NCAA does anything going forward. Those involved frequently can't help themselves.
"The problem with addiction is we can't stop it," Holt said. "The biggest needs we have in the industry now is monitoring, education and treatment. I think all three of those segments have been underserved.
"There are some companies doing addiction therapy. There needs to be more."