Alabama fires baseball coach amid betting investigation

Alabama fires baseball coach amid betting investigation

ESPN’s David Purdum broke the story Monday night, reporting that Ohio gambling regulators instructed the state’s licensed sportsbooks to stop taking wagers on Alabama college baseball games following suspicious betting activity in the Crimson Tide’s loss to top-ranked LSU on Friday.

Then on Thursday, Alabama fired head baseball coach Brad Bohannon. The school announced his dismissal via this statement:

“Greg Byrne announced he has initiated the termination process for head baseball coach Brad Bohannon for, among other things, violating the standards, duties, and responsibilities expected of University employees.

“Bohannon has been relieved of all duties and Jason Jackson will serve as the interim head coach. There will be no further comment at this time pending an ongoing review.”

According to Purdum’s sources with direct information about the investigation, “Sportsbook surveillance video indicated that the person who placed the bets was communicating with Bohannon at the time.”

The two bets – one was a straight bet on LSU and another had LSU in a parlay – were placed at Great American Ball Park, the home of the Cincinnati Reds, last Friday.

The Tigers beat Alabama, 8-6, as a favorite in the -240 to -245 range. In an appearance today on McElroy & Cubelic in the Morning, Purdum said that the amount of money wagered was believed to be around 15-20 thousand dollars. Therefore, the straight bet would have won less than half of the amount that was risked.

The details of the parlay outside of the LSU leg are unknown at this time. The bettor hasn’t been identified yet, either.

The amount raised suspicion because five-figure bets are unusual in college baseball, especially during the regular season. Books generally don’t take bets of that sort of amount until the College World Series in Omaha.

About an hour before last Friday’s game was scheduled to start, Alabama’s starting pitcher, ace Luke Holman, was scratched due to back tightness. His replacement was Hagan Banks, who had not started a game since March 16.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission was informed of the alleged suspicious activity by U.S. Integrity, an independent integrity firm based out of Las Vegas that has worked with the SEC to monitor all conference events since 2018.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement on Thursday.

“The University of Alabama has taken swift action after information about baseball sports wagering activity was questioned by industry regulators. Ensuring the integrity of athletic competition is our highest priority, and for that purpose the SEC monitors gambling activity through its relationship with US Integrity and has done so since 2018.

“There must be zero tolerance for activity that puts into question the integrity of competition. We will remain in communication with the University throughout its ongoing review and will have no further comment at this time.”

According to Purdum’s reporting and NOLA.com, FanDuel reported zero bets made on LSU’s 8-6 win over ‘Bama last Friday. However, out of an abundance of caution, FanDuel took down all of its odds for Alabama baseball in all of its jurisdictions after the initial alert from U.S. Integrity.

Sportsbooks in Indiana informed gaming regulators that they took suspicious bets on the game. Indiana and New Jersey joined Ohio in suspending bets on Alabama baseball games, and they were joined by Pennsylvania on Thursday morning just minutes before Bohannon’s dismissal was announced.

Indiana gaming regulators also instructed betting shops to refund any future wagers made on Alabama.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel has reported that there’s “no reason to believe any student-athletes were involved.” Furthermore, there’s no evidence that last Friday’s 8-6 win by LSU over ‘Bama was manipulated in any way.

Nevertheless, Bohannon is out of a job, but that’s the least of his problems at this point. Assuming Purdum’s sources are correct about Bohannon being on the phone with the gambler prior to making the large bets, he and his associate are going to be facing legal issues galore.

Jason Jackson has been named Alabama’s interim head baseball coach. Bohannon, who was hired in 2017, had a 166-124 overall record with the Crimson Tide, who went to only one NCAA Tournament (2021) during his tenure.