The Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book stopped taking bets on Texas A&M University football games after ESPN reported the National Collegiate Athletic Association is investigating potential rules violations by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The LVH Super Book took down the five Texas A&M games it had offered point spreads on, including the Aggies’ Sept. 14 home date against two-time defending national champion Alabama. Oddsmakers also aren’t currently taking bets on Texas A&M’s win total, which had been listed at 9 1/2 at the Super Book.
Texas A&M had been the most popular college football team with bettors at the casino’s future book, according to LVH Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman.
RJ Bell, founder of the handicapping information website Pregame.com, said other Las Vegas sports books were doing the same, with some leaving futures bets open at a very low payout. He called it a “very common” practice for books to take precautions against a dramatic swing in odds.
“Vegas does a good job of defining what a certain factor means to a team’s chances,” Bell said in an e-mail. “But when there’s uncertainty about the factor itself, Vegas prefers to pull odds off the board until the factor is known.”
The NCAA is trying to determine whether Manziel was paid at least $10,000 for signing photographs and sports memorabilia while attending college football’s national championship game in Miami in January, ESPN reported yesterday, citing two unidentified people who witnessed the signing but not the exchange of money. Many of those items were later sold online by a memorabilia dealer, ESPN said.
Manziel, 20, could be ruled ineligible to play college football if the investigation determines he violated NCAA rules by accepting money for promoting or advertising the sale of a product or service. Texas A&M athletic department spokesman Jason Cook told ESPN the school wouldn’t comment on the report.
Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said today that he found out about the ESPN report yesterday and wouldn’t change his approach to the season.
“Our university is doing its due diligence to find out the facts,” Sumlin said in a televised news conference. “We’re going to practice and go ahead as normal and adjust as the facts are related to me.”
NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter declined in an e-mail to comment on the ESPN report.
Manziel last year became the first freshman winner in the 78-year history of the Heisman Trophy, college football’s top individual award. He led Texas A&M to a 10-2 record in its debut season in the Southeastern Conference, passing for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 scores.
Junior Matt Joeckel is the only other quarterback on the roster who’s thrown a pass for the Aggies, connecting on five of 11 attempts last season.
Texas A&M opens its regular season schedule on Aug. 31 against Rice University.