7 athletes from Iowa, Iowa State charged in sports gambling probe. Here’s what we know

MurphyErin Murphy
IOWA CITY — Three months after the University of Iowa and Iowa State University confirmed some of their student-athletes were being investigated for betting on sports in violation of NCAA rules, charges have been filed against seven current and former athletes at the schools.
The seven were charged with tampering with records as part of the state’s “ongoing” investigation, which could still result in more charges.
The three current Iowa State athletes facing charges are quarterback Hunter Dekkers, wrestler Paniro Johnson and offensive lineman Dodge Sauser. Former Iowa State defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, also faces the tampering charge.
Current Iowa kicker Aaron Blom, former Iowa men’s basketball guard Ahron Ulis and former Iowa baseball catcher Gehrig Christensen face the same charge, which is an aggravated misdemeanor.
The maximum penalty under Iowa law for tampering with records is two years in prison.
Court documents allege the athletes made sports wagers in accounts under others’ names.
Any wagering by athletes on any sports sponsored by the NCAA — regardless of whether it is at the collegiate, professional or other levels — is not allowed.
Each player’s allegations are serious enough, if proven, the NCAA’s updated guidelines say the players “will potentially face permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in all sports.”
The criminal complaints cited five “legal and regulatory frameworks” allegedly violated: underage gambling; violation of licensed sportsbook user terms and conditions; breach of university and NCAA policies; unfair wagering and conflict of interest; and tax implications.
More than $2.2 billion was bet on sporting events in Iowa in the state budget year that ended June 30, according to state records. That’s down slightly from the record of nearly $2.5 billion wagered on sports in the previous state budget year.
Who else may be charged
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, which has been leading the investigation, said in a statement Wednesday its investigation into Iowa and Iowa State athletes “is ongoing and may result in the filing of additional charges.”
Iowa indicated 26 current athletes were involved in the sports gambling probe, and Iowa State had “approximately 15” current athletes involved.
Not every player known to be involved in the NCAA’s sports wagering investigation has been charged in law enforcement’s sports gambling investigation.
Iowa State's Paniro Johnson, right, wrestles Iowa's Max Murin at 141 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA wrestling dual against Iowa State Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)
Iowa State's Paniro Johnson (right) wrestles Iowa's Max Murin at 141 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA wrestling dual against Iowa State Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)
The law enforcement charges so far have revolved around efforts to disguise sports wagering activity rather than the gambling itself, so it’s possible for someone to be involved in the NCAA investigation but not face legal charges.
Iowa football defensive lineman Noah Shannon, for example, passed on representing the Hawkeyes at the Big Ten’s football media days because of his involvement in the NCAA investigation. But as of Wednesday afternoon, Johnson County had not filed a criminal complaint against Shannon.
The same goes for former Iowa baseball player Keaton Anthony, who missed the final month of the season because of the gambling probe.
Court documents also allege some of the charged student-athletes engaged in a “scheme” with others to conduct the alleged illegal sports betting. The state did not say whether charges may be brought upon those individuals who allegedly helped the student-athletes.
What they allegedly bet on
The severity of the gambling allegations vary by player.
Player whose allegations include bets on games he participated in:
Enyi Uwazurike
Players whose allegations include bets on their own teams, but on games in which they did not play:
Hunter Dekkers
Aaron Blom
Dodge Sauser
Players whose allegations include bets on their own schools, but not their own teams:
Ahron Ulis
Gehrig Christensen
Paniro Johnson
In May, shortly after the investigation was confirmed, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which administers the state’s gambling and betting laws, said it did not have any evidence that called into question the integrity of UI and ISU sporting events.
Iowa State defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike (58) reacts after sacking Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) in the third quarter of the game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Oct. 23, 2021. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
Iowa State defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike (58) reacts after sacking Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) in the third quarter of the game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Oct. 23, 2021. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
The Racing and Gaming Commission “does not currently have any information that would call into question the integrity of any sports wagering contest or event involving the University of Iowa or Iowa State University,” a statement from the commission said.
At the time, the statement seemed to indicate that none of the athletes under investigation had placed wagers on games in which they competed. But some of the criminal complaints filed Tuesday allege that Uwazurike bet on games in which he played.
How much they allegedly wagered
Johnson: “Over $45,640” from “approximately 1,283” wagers, including 25 on Iowa State sporting events.
Ulis: “Over $34,800” from “approximately 1,850” wagers, including “over 740” while underage, “over 430” wagers on NCAA-sponsored football and basketball games and at least one wager on an Iowa sporting event.
Uwazurike: “Over $21,361” from “approximately 801” wagers, including four wagers on his own team and two wagers on games in which he played. That is in addition to “approximately 32” wagers related to the Denver Broncos — the NFL team that drafted Uwazurike. He has been suspended by the NFL.
Blom: “Over $4,400” from “approximately 170” wagers, including eight wagers on Iowa sporting events and one wager on his own team. The alleged bets were while he was not yet of legal gambling age.
Sauser: “Over $3,075” from “approximately 113” wagers, including 12 wagers on Iowa State football games. All of the alleged wagers were before Sauser was of legal gambling age.
Dekkers: "Over $2,799” from ”approximately 366” wagers, including 297 wagers while underage, 26 wagers on Iowa State sporting events and one on the Iowa State football team.
Christensen: “Over $2,400” from “approximately 559 wagers,” including 23 wagers on Iowa sporting events.
What they’re saying
Jamie Pollard, the athletics director at Iowa State, said in a statement Wednesday that ISU educates its athletes, coaches and staff on sports wagering rules and “will continue to emphasize the importance of understanding and adhering to these regulations moving forward.”
Pollard also said the eligibility issues surrounding the sports wagering allegations “will take time before being completely resolved.”
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Ahron Ulis (1) jumps up to block Ohio State Buckeyes guard Bruce Thornton (2) as he goes for a layup and gets a two-pointer for the Buckeyes in the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Feb. 16. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Ahron Ulis (1) jumps up to block Ohio State Buckeyes guard Bruce Thornton (2) as he goes for a layup and gets a two-pointer for the Buckeyes in the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Feb. 16. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
Iowa Athletics spokesman Matt Weitzel, in response to a request for comment, said only “The University of Iowa continues to fully cooperate with the investigation.”
Nebraska men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters Wednesday he learned of Ulis’ eligibility problem after he had already signed with the Huskers via the transfer portal.
“We were not aware of this issue at the time we were recruiting him in the transfer portal this spring,” Hoiberg said.
He also had “no knowledge” of the possible legal charges until Wednesday’s news of the criminal complaint.
Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Wednesday. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Wednesday. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
Dekkers’ lawyer, Mark Weinhardt, said in a statement his client “denies the criminal charge” and “will plead not guilty to that charge because he is in fact not guilty of that charge.”
The tampering with records charge, Weinhardt asserted, is “a serious business records crime that does not apply to this situation, even if the allegations against him were correct.”
Weinhardt also said “millions of people share online accounts of all kinds every day.”
“Thousands and thousands of college athletes place bets — usually very small ones — with shared accounts,” Weinhardt said. “That is for the schools and the NCAA to police.”
Gazette correspondent Rob Gray contributed to this report.

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