American sports betting scandals date back to 1870, when Louisville Grace of the National League was the main party. The practice of athletes getting money to try to change the outcome of a match is undoubtedly detrimental to any sport. Proponents of gambling would argue that bookmakers are the first to learn about something suspicious, thanks to the money invested in various matches. This article explores incidences of players getting money to change the results of a game or referees involved in fixing matches.
White Sox Throw 1919 World Baseball Series
More than 100 years later, the Black Box team which organized the 1919 World Series made history in sports betting scandals. Baseball betting was prevalent in the first two decades of the 1900s. Sometimes even the players took part, but nothing was as earthshattering as the setup involving the Chicago White Sox in 1919. Eight White Sox players were said to have either received money or been implicated in a scoring scheme.
Subsequently, all eight players were found not guilty in a trial in Chicago in 1921, but at the same time, the newly appointed baseball commissioner banned them from playing for the rest of their lives. They collectively received the name “Black Sox” along with their lifetime ban despite numerous calls to restore their playing rights.
NFL: Paul Hornung and Alex Karas are ousted
Paul Hornung and Alex Karas were two of the biggest stars in the NFL in the early 1960s. League commissioner Pete Rosell banned them both due to allegations of betting despite their claims that they never bet on matches involving their own team. A subsequent investigation found that Hornung made bets of up to $500 per game and smaller amounts against friends, while Karas’ bets were in the range of $50 to $100.
Both players’ rights were restored for the 1964 season, but Hornung retired after only two more years, entering the Hall of Fame in 1986. Karsas played until 1970 and went on to develop a career as an actor. Unfortunately, he died in 2012.
NBA: Tim Donaghy’s inside bets
Tim Donaghy was a referee in the NBA from 1994 to 2007. It was later revealed that he had problems with gambling and had accumulated substantial debts. The FBI started investigating Donaghy and it emerged he had been wagering on the NBA using inside information, including on games he served as referee in.
The consequences came swiftly for Tim. He was suspended for life. More interestingly, it also emerged some players close to him had been getting money to fix outcomes, which they shared with him.
In 2007 he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. According to court documents, Donaghy had been betting on NBA games since 2003.
College football: the Toledo Rockets scheme
One of the more recent scandals in college leagues involves Toledo footballers and basketball players. It dates back to 2000. Three Rockets players were implicated in bribery in 2003.
Returning Quinton Broussard received $2,000 in cash from a Detroit gambler to change the outcome of a game. Two other players pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, and a total of seven Rocket athletes received probation. The leader of the conspiracy was sentenced to six years in prison for bribing athletes.