The alleged betting scandal embroiling the University of San Diego, (USD) may just be the tip of the iceberg of a new wave of computer savvy point shaving and/or game fixing with an internet camouflage for the NCAA and law enforcement to deal with.
Nevada sportsbooks have traditionally blown the whistle on fixed games with unusual action placed on games. Wagers on USD during the 2009 season in question showed no major suspicions in Vegas, yet Covers.com, a wagering news site, dug into their archives and it revealed a major shift in the line of a USD versus UC-Riverside basketball game in 2009.
The primary defendants are three alleged money men and USD’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Johnson. They are among ten people who have been arrested and charged with: sports bribery, operating a gambling ring, running a game-fixing operation and distribution of marijuana. The indictment claims that Johnson accepted money to fix a USD game in February 2010.
These were not mafia goodfellas fixing games, but down on their luck businessmen trying to make a buck taking advantage of athletes as Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Tribune reports so well. Zeigler also accounts how all three of the alleged ring-leaders had suffered recent bankruptcies and business evictions.
In past instances of game fixing/point shaving in college athletics, authorities have had a road map of unusual betting activity in Las Vegas casino sportsbook rooms that lead the way on the trail.
The prime example is the Arizona State University betting scandal in 1998 when carloads of ASU students drove to Vegas and placed bets on ASU games which moved the line dramatically and raised the eyebrows of experienced casino odds-makers.
In the USD gambling probe, prosecutors allege that the defendants placed the majority of their bets with offshore online betting services that did not tip their hand to Vegas casinos.
The main game in question was a USD against UC-Riverside battle in which USD opened as a 2-point road favorite and quickly became a 1-point dog. A hefty move of the line for a college basketball game. USD took a 40-24 early lead and then in the second half they went through a 12-minute scoreless drought. Johnson was 2 for 10 for the game, had three second half turnovers during the drought and was whistled for a technical foul with five minutes left.
In the game, Brandon Dowdy was the point guard for UC-Riverside. Dowdy was one of the ten defendants charged in the betting scheme, he transferred from USD to UC-Riverside the year before the game in question.