Behind the San Diego betting scandal 

April, 12, 2011

In the span of one hour yesterday afternoon the phrase I heard over and over from bookmakers regarding the University of San Diego point-shaving scandal was: "There was no unnatural betting activity."

And that's the term that matters. When it comes to betting scandals, there often are tells. Did the lines go haywire? Did bookmakers see a problem while it was happening? Did the line move an unusual amount? Was there an unusual amount of action on the game? Where did the action come from?

The truth is that these are all the questions bookmakers ask themselves, consciously and unconsciously, while monitoring every game in every sport on their boards. That's how the Arizona State scandal was uncovered in the mid-1990s.

With San Diego, though, no one I spoke to -- in Vegas or offshore -- had any recollection of unnatural betting activity regarding Toreros games that were mentioned or hinted at in the indictment. In fact, of the seven Vegas guys I spoke to late in the day yesterday, four hadn't even heard of the USD scandal until I told them about it. The few that had were scratching their heads over the games that might have been impacted. While the indictment mentioned games in February and January from 2010 and 2011, the contest that a lot of books began buzzing about as being potentially tainted was actually between USD and UC-Riverside in December 2009. Here's a great story from that details the way the game played out.