Brad Bohannon, the former University of Alabama baseball coach, violated NCAA wagering and ethical conduct rules when he provided insider information to an individual who bet on the baseball team’s games, according to a negotiated resolution between the University of Alabama and the NCAA announced on February 1, 2024 (the “Negotiated Resolution”).
According to the Negotiated Resolution, on April 28, 2023, Bohannon sent several text messages containing information regarding the University of Alabama’s upcoming baseball game against rival LSU to an individual Bohannon knew to be involved in sports betting. Bohannon relayed to the bettor that the University of Alabama’s projected starting pitcher would miss the game. Bohannon sent the messages before informing the LSU baseball coaching staff that the pitcher would miss the game and indicated in those messages that he would wait to do so until the bettor had placed bets on LSU: “HAMMER … [Student-athlete 1] is out for sure … Lemme know when I can tell LSU … Hurry.”
The bettor attempted to place multiple bets on the Alabama - LSU baseball game—including a $100,000 bet on LSU to win—at the BetMGM sportsbook at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. The sportsbook staff limited the bettor to one $15,000 bet on LSU, and flatly refused the other bets he attempted to place. The sportsbook staff did so due to “suspicious activity,” including statements by the bettor that the bet was “for sure going to win” and “if only you guys knew what I knew.” The bettor also showed the sportsbook staff the messages he had received from Bohannon.
On May 1, 2023, U.S. Integrity, a sports wagering monitoring company, alerted sports books to take caution when taking bets related to the University of Alabama baseball team due to certain betting irregularities.
On May 3, 2023, the University of Alabama informed the NCAA enforcement staff that, in connection with law enforcement, the university had begun investigating the allegations surrounding Bohannon, and later informed NCAA enforcement of its discovery of a possible violation and Bohannon’s involvement. The University of Alabama commenced the process to terminate Bohannon’s employment on May 4, 2023, and Bohannon resigned on May 17, 2024.
According to the Negotiated Resolution, though Bohannon initially did cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation, he later refused to participate in an interview with NCAA enforcement, make full disclosure of relevant information, and provide access to his electronic devices.
As part of the Negotiated Resolution, NCAA enforcement and the University of Alabama agreed that Bohannon’s actions violated certain principles of honesty and sportsmanship established in the NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws (the “Bylaws”), including principles captured in Article 10.3 of the Bylaws, which forbids staff members of an institution’s athletics department (including a coach) from knowingly participating “in sports wagering activities and providing information to individuals involved with or associated with any type of sports wagering activities” concerning an intercollegiate athletics competition.
Penalties Assessed Against the University of Alabama and Bohannon
Violations of the Bylaws are separated into Level I, Level II, and Level III violations. Per the Negotiated Resolution, the University of Alabama and NCAA enforcement agreed that Bohannon’s actions constituted a Level I violation of the Bylaws, which are violations that “seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model.”
Once it has been decided or agreed that a violation has occurred, certain factors are weighed to determine the appropriate penalty. Under the Bylaws, these factors are called “aggravating factors” and “mitigating factors.” After balancing these factors, the NCAA can determine whether the violating party should be subject to “aggravated,” “standard,” or “mitigated” penalties.
One such mitigating factor is “the absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the institution within the past 10 years.” This mitigating factor does not apply to the University of Alabama, however, because on November 20, 2020, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions issued a decision in connection with a case involving a former University of Alabama associate athletic director who received money in exchange for facilitating a meeting between the father of a student-athlete, a financial advisor, and the advisor’s representative. Notwithstanding that decision, the Negotiated Resolution stated that NCAA enforcement believed that the Bohannon case did not warrant a departure upwards from penalties outlined in the Bylaws because the facts of the Bohannon case involved distinct behavior in a different sport, among other reasons.
The University of Alabama and NCAA enforcement ultimately agreed upon certain Level I mitigated penalties. Specifically, the University of Alabama shall be under probation for three years (February 1, 2024 through January 31, 2027), during which time the University of Alabama must, among other things, continue to develop a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation and file preliminary and annual compliance reports with the office of the Committees on Infractions. The University of Alabama must also pay a fine of $5,000. The University of Alabama shall receive no postseason ban or scholarship reduction in connection with the negotiated resolution, however.
As for Bohannon, the University of Alabama and NCAA enforcement agreed that Bohannon’s failure to cooperate with the investigation was its own Level I violation, and thus an aggravating factor, resulting in the following Level I aggravated penalties:
Show-cause order: A show-cause order requires a member institution to demonstrate why it should not be subject to a penalty or additional penalty for not taking appropriate disciplinary or corrective action against an institutional staff member who has been involved in a violation of the Bylaws. Here, Bohannon was given a 15-year show-cause order. As a result, during the show-cause order, any member institution employing Bohannon shall restrict him from all athletically related activity and, to the extent Bohannon becomes employed by a member institution, shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it shows cause why the terms of the show-cause order should not apply.
Head coach restriction: To the extent a member institution does employ Bohannon while the show-cause order remains in effect, the employing institution shall suspend Bohannon from 100% of baseball regular season contests during the first five seasons of such employment.
There is precedent for prescribing the show-cause order as a penalty against a coach who participated in impermissible sports wagering activities. From August 2017 to May 22, 2018, an assistant coach of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro women’s basketball team placed wagers online on professional and intercollegiate sporting events, including games involving UNC Greensboro’s men’s basketball team. Like Bohannon, the assistant coach failed to cooperate with the investigation by refusing to provide NCAA enforcement with his online sports wagering histories and credit card statements, constituting another Level I violation. Considering the aggravating and mitigating factors present in that case, the assistant coach was given a 15-year show-cause penalty, according to the July 25, 2019 negotiated resolution between UNC Greensboro and NCAA enforcement.
The same negotiated resolution gave another UNC Greensboro employee a 4-year show-cause order for similar behavior. From December 2017 through April 2018, an assistant director of UNC Greensboro’s fundraising organization also participated in limited online sports wagering activities over a similar period, including making at least one wager involving the school’s men’s basketball team. Unlike the assistant coach, however, the assistant director only had one Level I violation because he cooperated in the investigation.
The Negotiated Resolution can be found here:
The 2020 Public Infractions Decision can be found here: https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/infractions/decisions/Nov2020D1INF_UniversityAlabamaPUBLICInfractionsDecision.pdf
The 2019 negotiated resolution between UNC Greensboro and the NCAA enforcement staff can be found here: https://web3.ncaa.org/lsdbi/search/miCaseView/report?id=102784
The NCAA Bylaws can be found here: https://web3.ncaa.org/lsdbi/reports/getReport/90008
 See Bylaws Article 10.3.
 See Bylaws Articles 19.1.2 – 19.1.4.
 See Bylaws Article 19.1.1.
 See Bylaws § 18.104.22.168(h).
 The violations described in the Negotiated Resolution were the University of Alabama’s eighth Level I, Level II, or major case.