Gambling investigations at Iowa and Iowa State have resulted in criminal charges filed against seven current or former athletes, with ex-Hawkeyes basketball player Ahron Ulis and Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers the ones with the highest profiles.
Each is accused in the complaints of tampering with records related to an Iowa Criminal Division investigation into sports gambling. Current athletes also face a loss of eligibility for violating NCAA gambling rules.
According to Johnson County online court records, charges have been filed against Ulis, Iowa baseball player Gehrig Christensen and Iowa kicker Aaron Blom.
Dekkers was charged in Story County, as were ISU football player Dodge Sauser, ISU wrestler Paniro Johnson and former football player Eyioma Uwazurike, who was drafted by Denver in 2022 and suspended indefinitely by the NFL for betting on Broncos games during his rookie season.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Wednesday the investigation was ongoing and additional charges could be filed. Attorneys for the athletes were not listed in the complaints. Mark Weinhardt of Des Moines said he was representing Dekkers and Sauser and that both would plead not guilty.
Ulis, who transferred to Nebraska after starting 27 games for the Hawkeyes last season, is accused of placing online wagers on a FanDuel Sportsbook account set up under the name of his brother, the complaint said.
Ulis was under Iowa’s legal gambling age of 21 when, between February 2021 to December 2022, he used his phone to make about 1,850 wagers totaling over $34,800, with at least one placed on an Iowa sporting event and over 430 placed on NCAA basketball and football games, the complaint said.
Christensen, who appeared in 11 baseball games for the Hawkeyes last season, is alleged to have used his phone to make 559 wagers totaling $2,400 with the DraftKings Sportsbook from last November to February, with 23 placed on Iowa sporting events. The DraftKings account was under his mother’s name.
Blom, who appeared in two games as a walk-on kicker last season, used a DraftKings account set up under his mother’s name and made about 170 underage mobile or online sports wagers between January 2021 and February 2022. The wagers totaled over $4,400, with about eight placed on Iowa sporting events.
One of Blom’s bets included the 2021 Iowa-Iowa State football game, according to the complaint. The bet Blom placed on the rivalry game was an over-under wager, which requires the bettor to choose whether the teams will combine for more or less than a designated combined point total. The over-under for the game was 45 points, and Iowa won 27-17 for a total of 44 points. Blom, who did not participate in the game, chose the under, according to the complaint.
Dekkers is accused of placing 366 online bets worth more than $2,799. According to documents, those bets included 26 Iowa State athletic events and a 2021 football game with Oklahoma State when Dekkers was a backup. He did not play in the game, which Iowa State won 24-21.
Dekkers was expected to be the second-year starting quarterback for the Cyclones this season. His attorney said he would skip preseason camp.
Sauser is alleged to have set up a DraftKings account under his mother’s name and placed about 113 bets totaling $3,075 between April and October 2022. A total of 12 bets were placed on ISU football games against Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Sauser did not play in those games.
Johnson, the 2023 Big 12 wrestling champion at 149 pounds, between August 2021 and October 2022 used a DraftKings account under a different person’s name to place 1,283 wagers totaling $45,640, with 25 bets on ISU sporting events.
In May, officials at Iowa State and Iowa announced they were cooperating with state gaming regulators who were investigating illegal online gambling on their campuses. Iowa said it identified 26 athletes in various sports that might have also compromised their NCAA eligibility. Iowa State at the time said about 15 athletes across three sports were suspected of violating gambling rules.
“Since becoming aware of potential NCAA eligibility issues related to sports wagering by several of our student-athletes in May, Iowa State University has been actively working to address these issues with the involved student-athletes. This process is ongoing and will take time before being completely resolved,” athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement, adding that the school wouldn’t comment on any athletes’ eligibility status.
“Iowa State Athletics educates its student-athletes, coaches and staff on NCAA rules and State of Iowa law surrounding sports wagering and will continue to emphasize the importance of understanding and adhering to these regulations moving forward.”
Experts have predicted that college sports will continue to see gambling scandals as betting becomes more accepted in states following a Supreme Court ruling five years ago. The topic grabbed headlines earlier this year after Alabama’s baseball coach, Brian Bohannon, and two Cincinnati baseball staffers were let go due to their connection to gambling investigations.
The NCAA recently stiffened punishment for athletes found to have bet on their games, influenced the outcome of those games, bet on other sports at their school or knowingly provided information to someone engaged in sports betting.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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