Iowa will appeal suspension of Noah Shannon, who admits involvement but not charged in gambling case


By ERIC OLSON AP College Football Writer

Iowa football player Noah Shannon, who has acknowledged his involvement in sports wagering, has been suspended for the season, coach Kirk Ferentz announced Wednesday.

Ferentz told reporters in Iowa City the school would appeal the NCAA’s decision.

Shannon has not been charged in the state’s criminal investigation of illegal sports wagering by athletes at Iowa and Iowa State. The senior from Aurora, Illinois, has started 28 games and came out of spring listed No. 1 at left defensive tackle.

Ferentz said Shannon made at least one wager on an event involving a Hawkeyes team in another sport, which is an NCAA violation punishable by a permanent loss of eligibility.

Shannon said on Aug. 11 he had cooperated with the NCAA and provided information.

“They’re taking their time doing their investigation, and I can’t be mad at them for that,” he said. “I mean, I broke a rule. I owned up to it.”

Ferentz said Shannon, who spent the offseason rehabbing an injury, will be allowed to practice and otherwise be with the team. The suspension only prohibits him from playing in games.

“In Noah’s case, he has not committed a crime at all. Nothing criminal,” Ferentz said. “I just feel like it’s a little bit harsh. I think it’s punitive, me personally, and I’m hopeful they’ll reconsider his case.”

Two current Iowa football players, kicker Aaron Blom and receiver Jack Johnson, have been charged with tampering with records. Both are suspected of making wagers while under the legal age of 21 and placing them on mobile sports wagering accounts registered under the names of other people.

Blom and Johnson are walk-ons, and Ferentz did not provide updates on their status. Blom is suspected of placing a bet on an Iowa football game as well as multiple bets on other contests involving other Iowa teams. Johnson is alleged to have made bets on Iowa football and men’s basketball games.

According to electronic court records, Blom has not entered a plea and Johnson has pleaded not guilty. The tampering charge stems from the players allegedly attempting to disguise their identities as NCAA athletes and being underage. The aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in prison and fines.

The Iowa athletic department issued a statement Tuesday announcing 11 athletes will have their eligibility impacted as a result of the investigation. The athletic department said it could not identify the athletes without their consent.

The Iowa and Iowa State investigations began in May, the same month Alabama’s baseball coach, Brian Bohannon, and two Cincinnati baseball staffers were fired because of their connection to gambling investigations.

The NCAA has found 175 infractions of its sports betting policy since 2018 and there were 17 active investigations as of July, according to a letter from NCAA President Charlie Baker that was obtained by The Associated Press.

Ferentz said he has been unable to find out why the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation decided to look into illegal sports wagering among athletes at Iowa and Iowa State. Several ISU athletes in multiple sports also have been charged.

Ferentz said it’s unfathomable athletes at Iowa and Iowa State — and not other college athletes in the state — are the only ones who have wagered on sports.

“For whatever reason we’re the lucky ones, we’re the chosen ones,” Ferentz said sarcastically. “We got to really benefit from this whole deal. I’m really not sure what the point was.

“I have a respect for the law. Don’t misunderstand that. I have high respect for the law. But I’m not sure I understand what happened.”

The DCI’s assistant director, David Jobes, said his agency couldn’t comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The NCAA revised its gambling policy this summer to eliminate full-season or permanent suspensions for violations other than match fixing, providing inside information to gambling interests and athletes wagering on their own games or on those involving teams in other sports at their school.

Athletes betting on their own games is unacceptable and merits serious punishment, Ferentz said, but he hopes the NCAA considers additional easing of penalties to account for the growing acceptance of sports wagering and the ease with which bets can be made on apps such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

“It’s on their phones, and people are enticing them with apparently 300 bucks of credit if you go with us, all that stuff,” Ferentz said. “I think it’s just time to really recognize the world these guys are living in and maybe be a little bit compassionate toward that.”

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