Governor wholeheartedly backs investigation of UI, ISU athletes accused of illegal gambling

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds is suggesting it was a tip that led state agents to investigate whether there was illegal gambling among male athletes at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

“They did their job. They received inquiries about an issue and they do what they do,” Reynolds said last week in her first public comments about the probe. “They responded to that and I think they were surprised at some of the results that they found.”

The state’s investigation of sports wagering led to misdemeanor charges against several student athletes at Iowa and Iowa State and the NCAA sanctions that followed have sidelined players. During a news conference in Des Moines Wednesday, Reynolds said no one in state government “checked in” with her about the investigation. “But I support wholeheartedly the department and the decisions that were made,” Reynolds said. “…They received some concerns. They looked into it, like they do with other issues, and I think they were surprised at some of the results that they actually uncovered.”

On August 15, 2019, it became legal in Iowa to place bets on sporting events, although people originally had to go to one of the 19 state-licensed casinos to register. Since 2021, registration can be done online, but you still must be at least 21 to place sports bets. Reynolds calls the gambling by Iowa and Iowa State athletes that’s been revealed is “a wake up call.

“We just have to do better education, make sure that these kids understand the consequences of doing this. This is preventable,” Reynolds said. “…Just because it’s so available and it’s so easy, we might need to double down on our efforts to make sure they understand the consequences that are involved going forward.”

Under current NCAA rules, college athletes of any age cannot bet on any sport in which the NCAA hosts a championship.