Threat from gambler spurred police protection for 2023 College World Series team

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Police were sent to protect one of the eight teams that competed in the 2023 College World Series after a threat from a gambler, CBS Sports has learned. The team wasn’t identified by NCAA president Charlie Baker, but the situation highlights his ongoing concerns about gambling in the new legal sports betting landscape.

Baker made several references to gambling during his address Monday at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention in Las Vegas.

“There was a bettor who threatened a team,” Baker told CBS Sports after the address. “The threat was serious enough [that] we showed it to authorities. They said, ‘You know what, we think we should probably hang out with you guys for the rest of the tournament.'”

Though Baker did not specifically mention the nature of the threat — nor that it occurred at the CWS — multiple sources confirmed to CBS Sports that the incident took place at last year’s event in Omaha, Nebraska. LSU won the 2023 national championship with Florida, Virginia, Wake Forest, Stanford, Tennessee, Oral Roberts and TCU also participating a year ago.

Gambling has become a key concern for college administrators since state-sponsored sports betting became legal in 2019. Authorities are currently investigating the Temple and Loyola (Md.) basketball programs for possible gambling violations.

Approximately five games a week on any given football Saturday (about 8%) are flagged by gambling monitor U.S. Integrity for possible improprieties.

“I think it’s the NCAA’s No. 1 concern,” said Clinton Speegle, a Birmingham, Alabama-based attorney who deals in sports law. “Talking to student-athletes, I’ve never had one admit to me that their colleagues or fellow students were putting pressure on them, but I think it’s just a reality. You’re sitting there in class and someone has DraftKings out.”

Earlier this year, the NCAA confirmed to CBS Sports that police surveillance was needed last year at a national championship event because persons were being targeted online. The incident was first reported by CBS News.

“We see the amount of vitriol coming from gamblers and their losses toward these student-athletes, which is significant, more than we ever saw from just fans,” said Matt Holt, founder of U.S. Integrity. “We should also believe that more instances of threats can lead to more instances of more people coming through on those threats.”

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