As summer ends, heat is on in Toledo point-shaving caseMcDougle has become the public face of a football and men's basketball point-shaving investigation that strikes at the integrity of college sports -- and threatens to generate federal charges. Sources close to a Detroit-based FBI probe into gambling suggest prosecutors aim to present the case before a federal grand jury later this year. And though the players apparently aren't the primary targets of the FBI investigation, a number of former and possibly some current Toledo athletes could face indictment.
Away from the Toledo campus, behind closed doors an hour up the road in Detroit, federal authorities have squeezed McDougle, 22, for information. According to sources, McDougle is cooperating with investigators as they appear to be focusing on 50-year-old Ghazi Manni, the manager of a family-owned grocery in Detroit. For the time being, the U.S. Attorney's office has dropped the charges leveled in a criminal complaint against McDougle in late March, but a spokesperson for the office called it a procedural matter. Sources say the investigation remains ongoing. . . .
McDougle is proclaiming his innocence:
In an interview with ESPN.com, McDougle denied any knowledge that Manni might have been gambling on Toledo games.Further trouble may be brewing for the University of Toledo with the NCAA:
"Obviously, sometimes people you know [are] doing things you never know nothing about," said McDougle, who was suspended by Toledo this spring and since has been declared academically ineligible. "It opened my eyes to a lot of different things. Basically, keep the people I really trust around me. It's changed my life as far as, I don't know if I'm still going to be able to play football for the University of Toledo. But it's not going to stop me from playing football. I still feel I'm good enough to make it to the next level either way it goes."
Did he, ESPN.com asked, suspect friends or teammates of shaving points?
"Every time I ever played, I always played to the best," McDougle said. "That's how I always did. For the team, I always thought everybody was giving 110 percent. So I never felt that way."
What about allegations that Toledo basketball players were also recruited to shave points?
"I don't even know any basketball players," he said.
Have federal investigators asked whether Manni sought help to fix games?
"I mean, they asked me if I knew he did or not," he said. "I told them I didn't know what he was doing."
But they believe he did, right?
"That is what they are thinking.". . . .
But the NCAA is keeping mum on all matters pertaining to this case:
Just a five-minute walk from the University of Toledo campus, on Avondale Street, sits a small brick house that McDougle called home last football season. . . .
Ross, whose company owns nearly 100 rental properties close to the Toledo campus, said he evicted McDougle and three other Toledo athletes from the house in January. That is shortly after McDougle was first approached by the FBI. At the time, Ross said, the Toledo athletes were also about $3,500 behind in rent. Ross said some of the players made payments once the football coaching staff got word they were in arrears, though he can't recall McDougle paying his share.Ross wouldn't identify the three Toledo athletes who shared the house with McDougle. Nor would he elaborate on his contact with Toledo's football staff about the overdue rent. . . .
Larry Moore Jr., the investigator who led an initial Nevada Gaming Control Board probe in the fall of 2005, also said the state board notified the NCAA soon after that inquiry. Moore, now retired, couldn't recall how succinctly the situation was described to the NCAA, or whether point-shaving was mentioned to the college governing body at the time.
What discussions went on inside the NCAA's Indianapolis headquarters, or how seriously the information from Las Vegas was taken, remains a well-kept secret. The NCAA has repeatedly declined ESPN.com's requests for clarification on issues related to the Toledo situation, a spokesperson saying it is against policy to comment on "current, pending or potential investigations." In any event, no one in the NCAA offices picked up the phone to tip off Toledo administrators to a potential problem until mid-October 2006. And even then, the possibility of point-shaving apparently didn't come up. . . .
Now, as fall practice proceeds, questions of athlete eligibility linger for the football and basketball teams. Even more troubling for Toledo are the institutional control questions: Did Toledo athletic officials know of any wrongdoing? If they didn't, should they have known? . . .You might want to get on that before the home opener on Saturday!
Earlier, Jacobs said that, before the season's start, the eligibility for every basketball and football player other than incoming freshmen would be reviewed and that the athletes would be interviewed by athletic department officials. Part of the review, presumably, is a requirement that players sign a statement saying they have not been involved in gambling activity. As of mid-August, that process remained incomplete. "We are at the midway point of the interviewing process, and eligibility of players has not been determined yet," said Toledo spokesman Matt Lockwood.