Charges in Betting Probe Involving Iowa State Athletes Are Dropped

Mar 22, 2024

By Gage Roberts

Early in the Summer of 2023, The University of Iowa and Iowa State University self-reported potential violations of sports wagering rules to the NCAA. Between the two schools, 41 total student athletes were accused of such violations.

The NCAA’s Bylaws are very strict in regard to sports betting. Article 10 provides that student athletes, coaches, and athletic staff are not allowed to place bets on any sporting event the NCAA sponsors. Nor are they allowed to give any information to others involved in sport wagering.

It was alleged that the athletes used online platforms to place bets while many used names of family members to cover their activity. It was also found that these bets were placed at university venues such as locker rooms and other athletic facilities.

A statement from Iowa State at the time highlighted that they were “aware of online sports wagering allegations involving approximately 15 of our student-athletes from the sports of football, wrestling and track & field in violation of NCAA rules.”

Football players Jirehl Brock, Isaiah Lee, Eyioma Uwazurike, and wrestler Paniro Johnson were among the athletes being criminally charged for their violations. Each of them were facing identity theft and tampering with records charges.

Charges Dismissed

Those charges have now been dismissed after new revelations revealed the information used to criminally charge the athletes was unjustly obtained.

The athletes’ defense attorneys presented an email containing evidence that the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (“DCI”) had violated their user agreement with GeoComply over using Kibana. It was also noted that the DCI’s privileges to access the product was revoked in January.

Kibana is a geofencing tool that was provided to the DCI by GeoComply and is used to track online activity within a set geospatial boundary. DCI special agent Brian Sanger was accused of using Kibana to gather evidence of the athlete’s gambling activity within ISU athletic facilities without a warrant.

The athletes’ attorneys also claimed that their clients’ Fifth Amendment Rights had been violated because they were wrongly told by investigators that the online gambling companies were under investigation and not them. The athletes additionally stated that they were not read their Miranda rights at any point during the process.

All these developments eventually led to a Story County prosecutor filing a motion to dismiss all charges. The motion was then approved by a judge resulting in clearance for the ISU athletes.

While the athletes are now in the clear in regard to criminal charges, the damage has already been done to their athletic careers.

Jirehl Brock and Isaiah Lee were forced to step away from football prior to the 2023 season due to NCAA sanctions. Meanwhile Eyioma Uwazurike was drafted in 2022 by the Denver Broncos but remains suspended by the NFL for betting.

The investigation caused Paniro Johnson to miss out on a full season of his ISU wrestling career. However, he will not face a lost year of eligibility since the charges were dropped. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Roberts is a Communication Major at the University of West Florida.

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