US PRESSWIRE

Auburn point shaving: Varez Ward's gambling connection believed to be local

Multiple Nevada and offshore sportsbooks have told Covers.com that there were no unusual betting patterns involving Auburn basketball, which is at the center of an ongoing FBI investigation into point-shaving.

Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson first reported Thursday that suspended Auburn guard Varez Ward has been implicated in the investigation.

A source close to the Auburn program told Covers.com that Ward’s gambling connection is believed to be in Montgomery, Ala., Ward’s hometown. If the allegations are true, a local bookmaker’s involvement would help explain why Nevada and offshore sportsbooks did not see any erratic line movement in Auburn games.

Ward and guard Chris Denson were suspended before a Feb. 25 home game against Arkansas after a member of Auburn’s coaching staff was alerted of possible point shaving by an unnamed Auburn player, according to the Yahoo! report. Covers.com has learned that assistant Milt Wagner is believed to be the coach originally informed of the allegations.

From there, the Tigers suspended both Denson and Ward indefinitely and alerted the FBI and NCAA. Denson has since been cleared.

A transfer from Texas, Ward averaged nine points and team-high 3.8 assists in 27 games this season. The sophomore has been banned from all team activities.

The website al.com, which is a combination of the majority of Alabama’s major newspapers, reported Thursday that Ward has privately acknowledged the investigation but has denied the allegations.

According to the Yahoo! Sports report, at least two games have been highlighted in the investigation: a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25 and a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7.

Auburn was a five-point underdog in the blowout loss to Alabama, but did cover the 9.5-point spread against Arkansas. 

Ward played less than a minute in the Arkansas game. He entered the game early in the second half and promptly turned the ball over and then hit the deck with an apparent leg injury. He left the game and did not return, leaving Auburn with only one inexperienced point guard, Tony Neysmith, to finish the game.

Against Alabama, Ward finished with three points on 1-for-5 shooting, while committing six turnovers in 17 minutes of action. He coughed the ball up twice in 21 seconds, with the Crimson Tide ahead 43-33 and just over 15 minutes remaining in the game. He would have two more turnovers six minutes later, helping Alabama push the lead to 20 points.

Auburn was called for three technical fouls in the first half of the Alabama game. Jamie Luckie, Doug Sirmons and Michael Stephens were the officials for the game.

When contacted by Covers.com, the FBI office out of Mobile, Ala., declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

While the point spreads in the two games highlighted didn’t move significantly, some of the over/under totals did. The total in the Jan. 25 game against Arkansas opened around 134.5, but got as low as 131.5 at some books. The total in the Feb. 7 Alabama game opened at 117 offshore before closing at 122.
Seven of Auburn’s eight games stayed under the over/under total from Jan. 25 to Feb. 25, before Ward was suspended.

There also has been some buzz surrounding Auburn’s 64-43 loss to Long Beach State in the semifinals of the Diamondhead Classic on Dec. 23 in Honolulu. Long Beach State opened as a 10-point favorite, but the number was bet down to -9.5 by tipoff. Ward started and played 29 minutes, going 1 of 7 from the field with five turnovers and one assist.

Auburn, which finished the regular season on a 12-3 run against the spread, was eliminated from the SEC tournament Thursday, falling to Ole Miss 68-54.

--Covers.com staff writer Ryan Stetson contributed to this article.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for our Editorial Team, please contact us at Editorial

            share   SHARE   rss   RSS FEED   email   EMAIL   print   PRINT
Hide All Responses
avatar

Posted by thisguyiswise
2 years ago

why do so many people automatically discount point shaving or the notion that it exists? Not saying this kid did it, but it happens way more than we know and people refuse to accept that fact. Read the book Blood Covenant by Michael Francese. He has been on Rome numerous times and worked for the mob. He lays it all out there.
avatar

Posted by smoothd20
2 years ago

@michaelpaul- Do us all a favor and never quit your day job. You could never make it in print media. Put the pipe down and read what you posted, then get back to us.
avatar

Posted by BeeRAD
2 years ago

why isn't a team like the LAKERS ever accused for point shaving?? every game this happens with the spread or always pushing the number of the set total
avatar

Posted by David_Payne
2 years ago

The two most common answers to your questions: 1. Way more folks paying attention to the Lakers than Auburn basketball. 2. College athletes are generally hard-up for cash; that's not a factor for the pros.
avatar

Posted by jk888
2 years ago

I've read a good book on match fixing in soccer called "The Fix", this whole thing smacks of amateurism. in the book they talk about how the pro fixers wheel a guy in with favours. how they can tell within 20 to 30 minutes of talking to a guy if he can be bought. it was very interesting. in this situation it sounds like Ward tried to get another teammate involved, he wasn't interested and ratted this Ward guy out.
avatar

Posted by Ashton_Grewal
2 years ago

I've read the book. Really well done. I actually interviewed the author (Declan Hill) two or three years for a story on Covers. Here's the link if anyone's interested in reading: http://www.covers.com/articles/articles.aspx?theArt=168299 Hill is a sharp dude and he was ahead of the game during his research for the book.
avatar

Posted by winnerwinner99
2 years ago

he's guilty
avatar

Posted by cheeser
2 years ago

If Auburn managed to skate over the Scam Newton kickback fiasco, this should prove to not even be a bump in the road.
avatar

Posted by coloradobuff
2 years ago

I dont think the kid was point shaving. First of all, if he really wanted to affect the outcome of a game, he would have wanted to play the whole game. He only averages 9 points a game. Also. He has some very good games after the alleged 2 games in question.
avatar

Posted by stats1
2 years ago

hook his nuts 2 the jumper cables and start the F350!!
avatar

Posted by pete_95973
2 years ago

15 of their 23 games have gone under. That is a lot. That seems like the best way to fix a bet. Especially when they are guards. Slow the tempo down, run the shot clock down then shoot a bad shot or turn it over.
         1      
You are currently not logged in.
Login | Signup | Help
You must be logged in to post a comment.

Top Response

Posted by stats1
2 years ago

"hook his nuts 2 the jumper cables and start the F350!!"