OPINION | WALLY HALL: Bama betting probe shows risk for athletes


Alabama fired its baseball coach Brad Bohannon in late April after allegations he had been involved in wagering on a Crimson Tide baseball game against LSU.

A bet was made in Ohio that drew the suspicion of the surveillance team and a second bet by the same person led the Ohio gaming commission to immediately take the game off the board.

Bohannon, if he was involved, apparently didn't bet on his team, but wagering is against the rules, and shortly after the wager was made it was announced Bama would have a different starting pitcher.

ESPN has reported that Ohio gaming officials believe Bohannon was on the phone with the unidentified bettor just before both transactions.

Unranked Alabama did lose, and probably would have anyway to the then-No. 1 ranked Tigers, but it was quickly announced it didn't appear any student-athletes were involved.

First, how long are we going to continue to call them student-athletes when some are making hundreds of thousands of dollars from Name, Image, Likeness deals.

Second, how long can the coaches protect the players from leeches who will try and get to them.

Sports wagering in just Arkansas was $33 million last year and there are currently only three outlets -- Saracen Casino Resort, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Park -- which can legally accept wagers on sporting events.

Yes, all three have apps that allow it from personal devices.

And yes, wagering can also be made at offshore accounts, but that is illegal and they aren't required to report the amounts wagered.

When the NCAA was still the powerful governing arm of college athletics, one of its biggest concerns was gambling and athletes and coaches were given strict guidelines.

In fact, at one time Las Vegas casinos were not allowed to take wagers on any schools in Nevada.

If, and the keyword is if, the temptations can get to a 47-year-old man who is living his lifelong dream, how tempting will it be for an athlete who is offered $100,000 in cash, or more, to suddenly develop an injury and not be able to play.

There is a lot of responsibility that goes with being a coach and protecting their athletes is just one of them. But this is a new ballgame, and like NIL and the transfer portal there seems to be no rules or regulations, although the schools are gaining a little control in the transfer portal with specific dates an athlete can transfer.

College athletics is still great entertainment that millions prefer over the professional leagues, but it has never needed strong leadership more than now.

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Tua Tagovailoa won a lot of honors as a quarterback at Alabama, including All-American, MVP of the College Football Playoff national championship, a national title and was a first-round NFL draft pick.

He did not win the Heisman Trophy as reported here yesterday, but finished second to Oklahoma's Kyler Murray, although Tagovailoa won the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards as college football's top player.

The column note wasn't about Tagovailoa, who led the NFL in passer rating last season, but about how much Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson would improve under Dan Enos, who coached Tagovailoa his final season with the Crimson Tide.

Enos, a former quarterback himself, will not overhaul Jefferson, but he most likely will tweak a few things that should help Jefferson.

Everyone already knows Jefferson is coachable and has a great work ethic.

Last summer he started working out with one receiver after dinner, and then it became almost all the receivers. Jefferson even turned down an invite to the prestigious Manning Camp to stay on campus and work with his receivers.