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Update: UTEP basketball players involved in betting, officials say

Updated: Tuesday, January 7 2014, 09:57 PM MST
Update: UTEP basketball players involved in betting, officials say story image

Watch UTEP's press conference

By: Genevieve Curtis and the Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- The University of Texas at El Paso says it has kicked three players off the men's basketball team after they bet on at least one sporting event.

UTEP Executive Vice President Richard Adauto said Tuesday that officials in December received information that players may have been betting on games. The school contacted the FBI.

Adauto says three players have since been found to have taken part in gambling: Justin Crosgile, McKenzie Moore and Jalen Ragland.

Adauto says UTEP has no information to suggest the three were involved in point-shaving. "To date there is no indication of point shaving involvement," said Aduato.

Rumors and speculation had swirled online that players Moore and Ragland were suspended because of point-shaving.

"We evaluate every film after any ball game and I was not suspicious of any behavior that would have said they were betting on any UTEP event and there's been no indication of that," said head coach Tim Floyd.

The two were suspended in late December but no reason was given at the time.

Gambling and sports betting is a very serious NCAA infraction it results in a one-year suspension and a one-year loss of eligibility. Since all three players are upperclassmen, their college careers are over.

On Dec. 28, Floyd received what he described as a tip that Moore and Ragland may be involved in betting on sporting events.

"I found out that afternoon we might have a potential issue. Being responsible to our team and knowing the implications of not reporting this to my athletic director that information, I contacted my athletic director as soon as I heard. I've lived in this town for 22 years and just got a random tip and I didn't know if it was true or not true," said Floyd.

Both Athletic Director Bob Stull and Adauto took the information to the FBI. Officials said the FBI was not investigating the players prior to the university bringing the issue to its attention.

"It was the right thing to do," said Floyd.

It is through the federal investigation that the university learned of Crosgile's involvement and confirmation on their suspicions.

Floyd said described his disappointment saying he felt as though he had been kicked in the stomach.

"I'm crushed personally that this has happened but beyond that, after today, I've got to go and worry about the young men that we have here right now and try to do the best job we can with them," said Floyd.

Floyd said he did not tell Moore and Ragland why they were suspended when he sat them out beginning on Dec. 28, just that they were being suspended for behavior detrimental to the team.

Monday, an assistant coach notified Crosgile that he was off the team as well.

Recruiting players with character and integrity has always been a top priority for Floyd and the program which makes an instance like this particularly difficult.

"We have worked tirelessly to try and bring in high character people and I feel like we have the highest character group that I've had since I've been in coaching and I just love our kids. I worry about the reflection on guys like C.J. Cooper, Matt Willms and Cedrick Lang and all of these other young people who have just been fabulous," said Floyd.

"It's not a good situation, it's embarrassing for us, but we will move past it," said Stull.

Stull said on the positive side there is a lesson to be learned.

"It's a leaning time for other student athletes do they can see the results of gambling," said Stull.

Twice a year, UTEP athletes listen to a presentation about not betting or gambling which explains that their eligibility could be at stake.

"Any type of gambling and point shaving stuff effects all levels of athletics. So when the rules are conceived they address every issue possible. Gambling is a serious problem in sports," said Stull.

Floyd said echoed the necessity for the NCAA rules on gambling.

"I think they are very justified in having this rule in place it speaks to the integrity of the sport. These young people can be compromised given that they are student athletes," said Floyd.

The loss of three players means open spots for Floyd and his squad.

"Anytime you lose personnel, it's a blow," said Floyd.

Floyd indicated there would be a few walk-ons who will now get significant minutes.

Recruiting wise, there are more opportunities for perspective players.

"My responsibility is to the young men that are here right now. We've got good people here right now and I think those stories need to be told. That's who I hurt for right now. The guys that are here, that are great kids. They are great people. They are great competitors that wanted to have a great season this year," said Floyd.

Floyd said they are going to be making some changes putting a roster together that he called unusual.

Prior to the press conference Tuesday, Floyd said the players were not completely in the loop as to what was going on because of the FBI investigation. Aduato indicated all the players had been interviewed by the FBI during the course of that investigation.

Moore does not have a spotless record at UTEP. Floyd suspended Moore for at least one game.

"The squeaky wheel wasn't going to get all of the grease in our program. That's why he was sat down. I viewed not being a good team mate as an issue. As you know, I've always felt it's easy to get rid of a player the harder thing to do is to keep em in there and make them a better player," said Floyd.

"In Moore's case, we felt he needed to grow and sometimes the best thing I can do is suspend a player, take away what he loves the most," said Floyd.

Floyd said he spoke to Ragland's family in Chillicothe, Ohio. He said Ragland's parents thanks Floyd for giving their son an opportunity. They felt he didn't make the most out of his opportunity," said Floyd. But the coach said Ragland was a high character player coming out of high school and if he had to recruit Ragland again, he would. Crosgile was a last-minute replacement after UTEP recruit Isaac Hamilton went back on his commitment to the university in an unprecedented move.

Floyd said his attention now is for his Miners to put their best foot on the court. Shortly after the UTEP press conference the FBI released this statement to KFOX14: "This is an ongoing investigation based on the information received from UTEP. UTEP continues to work with the FBI on the investigation and they are to be commended for their prompt action and continued cooperation."

UTEP is 10-5 this season.

KFOX14 contacted the NCAA about the three players on the UTEP men's basketball team involved in betting. A representative of the NCAA released a statement regarding point shaving in general, but not specific to the UTEP case:

"We take any allegation of point-shaving very seriously as it is a crime that threatens two core NCAA principles -- the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport.

"The threat of sports wagering is real and no campus is immune. For this reason, the NCAA and its members conduct forward-leaning national and targeted educational outreach, as well as strong enforcement efforts for all divisions and sports. In addition, the NCAA is regularly in contact with local, state and federal law enforcement and Nevada gaming officials to identify and rout out sports wagering and point shaving wherever it may occur."

Update: UTEP basketball players involved in betting, officials say
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