Jordan Nwora, a star college basketball player for the Louisville Cardinals, told reporters Tuesday night that he received a death threat after a poor performance in a loss to archrival Kentucky.
A preseason Associated Press All-American and the Cardinals leading scorer, Nwora scored a season-low eight points in a 78-70 overtime loss to the Wildcats on Dec. 28. He shot just 2-of-10 from the field. He entered the game as an 80 percent free throw shooter, but he made just 3-of-6, with some of the misses occurring late in a tight game.
The 6-8 forward has since rebounded nicely, matching a career-high 32 points in a loss to Florida State on Saturday. He followed that up by scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Tuesday’s 74-58 victory over Miami (Fla.) that snapped a two-game losing streak.
In Tuesday’s postgame press conference, Nwora said he saw some of the “crazy stuff” people said online about him after the Kentucky loss.
I had somebody message me and say they wanted to kill me over a $15 bet,” Nwora said. “It’s a $15 bet! If that’s what you’re worried about, I think you have more issues than worrying about me.”
Nwora was able to laugh at the comment after Tuesday’s win. But his story could be used as an example by those who want to see college sports removed from legalized sports betting markets.
In November, a former college soccer player received an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to federal charges over death threats he made to college and pro athletes on Instagram.
Laws on College Sports Betting Mixed
Of the 14 states where legal sports betting is currently active, only Oregon has banned all betting on college basketball and other college sports. Others, such as New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York, have banned betting on games played by in-state college teams, or games played in the state. Iowa has banned in-game prop betting on athletes from in-state colleges or their opponents.
Some colleges, including St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania and Indiana’s Purdue University, have initiated policies that ban students, faculty, and staff from betting on its sports teams.
University officials and other student-athlete advocates say they’re looking out for the best interests of those who play sports. They want to shield them from the possibility of being propositioned to fix games or outcomes of certain events during their contests. They also seek to protect them from the kinds of threats Nwora said he received.
However, critics counter that banning college sports betting will only ensure that the millions bet on college sports will stay in the illegal black market and unregulated offshore sportsbooks. US Sportsbooks and gaming advocates tout that a regulated industry helps identify match fixing schemes.
Kentucky currently does not allow sports betting, though state Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) sponsors a bill to legalize it. While the current version of the bill prohibits betting on in-state college teams, including Louisville, he has said that could be changed.
Oddsmakers Still Like Louisville’s Title Chances
The two-game losing streak dropped the Cardinals to 11th in the coaches’ poll and 13th in the AP rankings. Still, oddsmakers consider Nwora and his Louisville teammates as a strong contender for the NCAA college basketball title.
William Hill lists the Cardinals as its co-favorite, along with Gonzaga, at +850. The sportsbooks tabs Kansas as the third choice at +900, followed by Duke (+1000) and Ohio State (+1100).
At FanDuel, the Cardinals are at +1100, tying them with Gonzaga and Kansas for the second-lowest odds on its board. Duke is FanDuel’s favorite at +950.
DraftKings has Louisville as its fourth choice, along with Baylor, at +1500. DraftKings pegs Gonzaga as its favorite at +800, followed by Duke (+1000) and Kansas (+1200).