The UTEP Miners basketball program is at the center of a reported sports-betting scandal involving several former players who have been dismissed from the team.
According to CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander on Tuesday, Jan. 7, athletics director Bob Stull announced that approximately a month ago, two Miners players were revealed as possibly betting on sports:
UTEP AD: Program learned last month two players “may have been betting on sporting events.” Reported immediately to local FBI office.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) January 7, 2014
Nicole Auerbach of USA Today reports that there were three players who gambled—McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland and Justin Crosgile—with Stull asserting that the issue was confined to only those players:
The three UTEP players who were gambling were McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland, Justin Crosgile. All kicked off team.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) January 7, 2014
UTEP doesn't think there are any more players involved in gambling situation (than the 3 named). UTEP president: "We think we're done."— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) January 7, 2014
Jamel Valencia and Jesse Martinez of KFOX 14 El Paso initially reported on this FBI investigation, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.
In their report, they included a statement released by an NCAA representative that didn't mention UTEP specifically, but did imply that this may be an instance of point shaving:
We take any allegation of point shaving very seriously as it is a crime that threatens two core NCAA principles -- the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport. The threat of sports wagering is real and no campus is immune. For this reason, the NCAA and its members conduct forward-leaning national and targeted educational outreach, as well as strong enforcement efforts for all divisions and sports. In addition, the NCAA is regularly in contact with local, state and federal law enforcement and Nevada gaming officials to identify and rout out sports wagering and point shaving wherever it may occur.
It is unclear what type of sports the three players allegedly bet on, but the statement suggests it could have involved the games they participated in. The motivation to do so is faulty, because this is a team that only lost by four points to the Kansas Jayhawks back on Nov. 30.
Indefinite suspensions were handed out to Moore and Ragland in late December, per Valencia and Martinez.
The Miners are 10-5 this season under head coach Tim Floyd, who has dealt with controversy before when he resigned as coach of USC in 2009.
Moore was UTEP's leading scorer, averaging 13.1 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds and a team-high 2.7 assists per contest. Losing him is a big blow for the program.
Crosgile and Ragland were upperclassmen guards who combined to average 9.1 points per game. Their absence will hurt the Miners' depth.