Saturday, April 13, 2024

Temple gambling scandal: What to know as watchdog group probes betting activity surrounding basketball team

Temple’s run to Sunday’s AAC Tournament Championship Game made it one of top early surprise teams of March Madness. The Owls enter the matchup with No. 4 seed UAB as the No. 11 seed in the AAC bracket after losing 10 straight games at one point during league play under first-year coach Adam Fisher and finishing just 5-13 against league foes.

Making Temple’s surge all the more bizarre is the scrutiny it’s facing following a report of suspicious gambling activity surrounding Owls games. Fittingly, the AAC Tournament title game pits Temple in a matchup against UAB when it was a previous game against the Blazers that reportedly caught the attention of betting industry monitors, who watch for suspicious activity.

Amid the proliferation of legalized sports gambling across the country, millions of sports fans can wager on games with a few taps on their phone, bringing renewed fears among some in the industry about point-shaving and other potential issues. Alabama’s baseball coach was fired last season amid a probe into suspicious gambling activity, and college athletes in Iowa were found to be betting on their own games, just to name a couple of the most high-profile incidents involving betting in college sports.

Against that backdrop, here’s what we know about the Temple situation.

Who is investigating Temple?
U.S. Integrity is investigating the suspicious wagering activity surrounding Temple, according to Sports Illustrated’s original report. It’s a gambling watchdog company that works to combat illicit college sports betting and fraud.

What sparked the investigation?
Temple’s 100-72 home loss against UAB on March 7 supposedly led to the inquiry due to “suspicious betting activity” surrounding the matchup. Coincidentally, UAB and Temple wound up being the matchup in Sunday’s AAC Tournament title game.

What may have constituted suspicious activity?
UAB was a narrow favorite before the line changed dramatically during the day of the game. UAB was at one point favored by 8 points in the market before the line closed at UAB -7. Big line movements aren’t uncommon with injuries or books taking large action on one side or the other, but there were no known ailments that could explain the large swings.

Was that the only Temple game to draw scrutiny?
Apparently not. Sports Illustrated reported that U.S. Integrity “has been monitoring” Temple games for a while.

What has Temple said about the situation?
The school released a statement following the team’s 100-72 loss to UAB saying “We are aware of the social media posts regarding last night’s men’s basketball game. We will review the reports thoroughly in accordance with university and NCAA policies.  While we can’t comment any further at this time, we take this matter very seriously.”

Has anyone been suspended from Temple?
No, and in fact the Owls have used the same starting lineup in every game for nearly two months.

How is Temple doing against the spread since the investigation started?
Since the 100-72 loss against UAB that was flagged, Temple is 5-0 against the spread and suddenly finding a level of consistent success that had been noticeably absent before.

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