Point-Shaving in College Sports: How Big is the Problem?


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Point-Shaving in College Sports: How Big is the Problem?

A recent point-shaving scandal at Toledo has a lot of gamblers wondering how many other schools are doing the same thing.

According to an FBI spokesperson, point-shaving allegations against a former University of Toledo basketball player are related to gambling charges filed last year against a former Toledo football player.

Sammy Villegas, a guard who finished his college career in 2006, is accused of shaving points in games during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. The allegations by federal prosecutors became known last week.

Running back Harvey ''Scooter'' McDougle Jr. was charged in April 2007 with participating in a bribery scheme to influence sporting contests. A month later, those charges were dropped, but the investigation continued.

''The charges against Mr. Villegas are part of a larger investigation that encompasses Mr. McDougle, and that investigation is ongoing,'' said Sandra Berchtold, an FBI spokeswoman in Detroit.

So, my question is if this kind of thing is going on at Toledo, we would have to be naive to believe the same thing isn't happening at a number of other schools around the country, right? I know a lot of people here always talk about games being fixed but here is what I know about how hard it is to do it at the NFL level.

It's very difficult for a referee to be crooked at the NFL level. When I worked for the Patriots, we met with NFL officials every offseason. When the whole Tim Donaghy scandal came down, we asked the refs if the same thing could be going on in the NFL. Their reply was it would be almost impossible.

The referee who spoke to us said that the NFL does a background check for new officials that is more intense than the FBI. He told us a story about a college official who was denied access into the NFL because his family owned race horses and the league won't hire a person when they have ties to gambling of any kind.

He also said NFL referees can only visit Las Vegas during the offseason and they must notify the league that they are going to be in town. If an official is in Las Vegas during the season without prior approval from the NFL, it can lead to an instant dismissal.

While I'm not suggesting that an NFL game can't be fixed, I think we all agree that it would be much tougher to get to someone at the pro level than a 20-year old college kid. So how big of a problem is point-shaving in college? What is alarming to me is some of the schools that have been busted for the infraction in recent years.

In the last 20 years, Arizona State, Toledo, Northwestern and Boston College are some of the schools that have been found guilty of point-shaving. Alright, so ASU is a college disguised as a drunken orgy. Let's throw them out because God only knows what is going on there. 

But the thing that intrigues me the most is Northwestern and Boston College are on this list. These are two of the finest academic institutions in the country. If schools like that are willing to shave points, are you telling me guys at places like Utah State, Florida International, Temple, just to name a few, aren't involved in point-shaving and fixing games? I find that hard to believe. My thinking is if it can happen at Northwestern, a school recently named one of the top 10 hardest colleges and universities to get into, then it's happening at schools all over the country.

So, my question is, with this Toledo point-shaving scandal getting uglier by the day, how big of a problem do you guys think point shaving is today in college football and basketball?

  • I offer up MEMPHIS> In cusa memp can name the score, but there were times (at home no less ) that the tigers won by 10 with a 20+ spread. AND  AFTER THE 08 NFL SEASON, EITHER THE REFS OR THE ENTIRE NFL WERE INTO SHENNAGINS.

  • I know it happens and I'll leave it at that

  • i looked up douche bag in the dictionary and I saw your picture.

  • Good point Tommy - I also think being near large cities like Chicago and Boston puts athletes at risk too.  They see what the pros are doing in their own backyard and are targeted by all kinds of shady characters who are looking to take advantage.

  • Matty, I understand your point. I'm just saying if you can get to a kid at Northwestern, how difficult would it be to get to a kid at Arkansas State? I agree with you guys. I think it's like steroids in sports. They catch a few but if they caught them all, we would be watching Beverly Hills 90210 on fall weekends instead of sports. At least I would. lol

  • Very Widespread. EVERY CFB Player KNOWS the SPREAD on there upcoming Game.

    I wouldn't be Surprised to see a Scandal this Season.

  • I agree Matty, much more widespread that people would like to think. Sad, but true.

  • Tommy, it's not so much the schools as it is the athletes.  We all know a good number of athletes at Northwestern and Boston College wouldn't be able to get into those schools without their ability to play sports.  Do you really think Allen Iverson could get into Georgetown on his own?  Talk about one of the country's finest institutions.

    College athletes don't make money, so shaving points is one way they can accomplish that goal.  There is no guarantee of a pro career, so some of these athletes are simply willing to do whatever it takes to put money in their pocket.  It's more widespread than people think.