Oddsmaker with suspicions filed report on Toledo

Updated: April 6, 2007, 11:41 AM ET
By George J. Tanber | Special to ESPN.com

This story has been corrected. Read below for details

TOLEDO, Ohio -- A Las Vegas oddsmaker said Monday night that he alerted Nevada gambling authorities and the NCAA last summer about unusually large amounts of money being wagered on University of Toledo football games. On Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office accused 22-year-old senior UT running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle Jr. of taking bribes from a gambler in Sterling Heights, Mich., to alter the result of football games and recruiting teammates and members of Toledo's basketball team to do likewise.

The oddsmaker, Kenny White, chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said that beginning in the 2004 season he and his associates noticed that there was heavy betting on certain Toledo football games and those of another Mid-American Conference team he declined to name.

"But then it stopped and it was just Toledo," he said.

The unusual betting pattern continued into the 2005 season, according to White. As his suspicions grew, he watched tape of all of Toledo's football games in 2004 and 2005.

"We really couldn't pinpoint a single player or coach or official," he said. "But we knew something was happening there."

White said he filed verbal reports with the Nevada Gaming Commission and the NCAA last summer; he did not mention basketball games. [White clarified an earlier statement that authorities were alerted in the fall of 2005.]

FBI agents first uncovered a connection between the Sterling Heights gambler, whom they identify as "Gary," and UT athletes in November 2005, according to an affidavit submitted in support of a criminal complaint against McDougle. Neither McDougle nor the alleged Michigan gambler could be reached.

When FBI agents questioned McDougle on Dec. 14, 2006, he told them Gary offered an unnamed UT player as much as $10,000 to sit out a game or number of games but did not say whether the player did so, according to the affidavit.

White declined to reveal the games he believes were affected by the alleged scheme, but he believes the bettors profited largely.

"If they were giving a kid $10,000 to sit a game out, they probably were betting at least $100,000," he said. "I bet you if we tracked the roots, it wasn't one guy. Probably 100 people were in on this knowing what the right side was going to be in those games."

White said the bettors would not have wagered all their money in one place.

"They have to spread them out. I'm sure they used offshore industries and they use Nevada because they know they're going to get paid," he said.

White said the alleged UT scheme is different from other point-shaving schemes, such as scandals in the 1990s involving basketball programs at Northwestern University and Arizona State University, in that one person appeared to be involved only as a recruiter of other players.

But in another way, the scandals are similar.

"Guys are trying to get to these players, and they tell them, 'Hey, you don't have to lose the game. You just don't have to cover the spread.' That seems to be the one common theme. And they talk [the players] into doing these crazy things," White said. "It's pretty big any time a point-shaving scheme happens. We're just glad the FBI found the information they needed and are headed in the right direction."

George J. Tanber is a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at george.tanber@iscg.net.

The timeframe of when the NCAA learned of unusually large amounts of money being wagered on University of Toledo football games was incorrect due to inaccurate information provided by a source. The source originally said the timeframe was 18 months ago, but later changed it to last summer. Also, the story indicated that Kenny White, the chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, filed a report with the Nevada Gaming Commission and NCAA. He issued a verbal report.

George J. Tanber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com's golf coverage.

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