Alabama coach fired

Time will tell if it will grow into a full-blown scandal, but regardless of whether or not it does, it looks like Bert Eugene Neff, Jr. will be at the center. According to Sports Illustrated, Neff is the direct connection between NCAA investigations of the baseball teams at the University of Alabama and University of Cincinnati.

The first investigation revolves around a game on April 28 between Alabama and LSU. A man placing bets on the game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati was seen on surveillance video communicating with Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon.

Alabama’s ace pitcher was supposed to start against LSU, one of the best teams in the country, but was scratched before the game because of a back injury. His replacement hadn’t started a game in a month and a half. LSU won 8-6.

The man on the phone was Bert Neff. Bohannon was fired in early May after the evidence of his contact was Neff was discovered.

Son plays for Cincinnati

At the University of Cincinnati, assistant coach Kyle Sprague and operations director Andy Nagle were both fired on May 17 for allegedly knowing about Neff’s betting activity, but not reporting it. It is not known, at least to the public, if Neff bet on Bearcats games.

This situation is made even more intriguing because of the fact that Neff’s son, Andrew, is a pitcher for the University of Cincinnati, as is his high school teammate Tommy O’Connor.

Bert Neff played college baseball in the 1990’s and has coached youth teams in Indiana. Sports Illustrated says he is “well connected within the youth baseball and college baseball realms,” including in the college baseball recruiting arena.

Again, it is not known if Neff bet on Cincinnati games. The Alabama situation certainly looks bad, though. It is hard to imagine any non-nefarious reason why Neff would be talking to the head coach while placing bets before a game and before the public knew the Alabama’s star pitcher would not be playing.

Unless it was an absolute coincidence and Neff and Bohannon just happened to be friends innocently talking on the phone at that moment, it feels like the best-case scenario is that Neff got a betting tip. More sinister would be that he was placing bets for Bohannon, who knew his team’s chances of beating LSU had taken a hit. I would guess that it is unlikely that Bohannon scratched his pitcher in order to help win a bet, as there is no indication that the injury was not legitimate.

Alabama was good this season, finishing 40-19 and is hosting one of the 16 NCAA tournament regionals, which start Friday. Cincinnati’s baseball team was bad, ending the season at 24-33.

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