Sports Betting Probe Results in Three Iowa Hawkeyes Facing Charges


Posted on: August 3, 2023, 09:42h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2023, 09:42h.

Three student-athletes from the University of Iowa are facing criminal charges for engaging in sports gambling activities. The individuals involved include Ahron Ulis, a former basketball player for the Hawkeyes, Gehrig Christensen, a baseball player, and Aaron Blom, a football team backup kicker.

Ahron Ulis Iowa
Ahron Ulis, starting point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes last season, was charged in a recent sports gambling investigation. (Image: AP)

A total of seven student-athletes were charged on Monday in a gambling sting conducted by the Iowa Criminal Division.

Among the accused are four student-athletes from Iowa State who were found to have placed bets on their own school’s events. This includes quarterback Hunter Dekkers, defensive line star Eyioma Uwazurike, and offensive lineman Dodge Sauser from the football team. Additionally, Big 12 wrestling champion Paniro Johnson was allegedly involved in over 1,250 wagers.

According to the complaint, Dekkers, Sauser, and Johnson were underage bettors who used other accounts to place bets.

Uwazurike, a fourth-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos, received an indefinite suspension from the NFL for betting on games during his rookie season in 2022. He was one of ten NFL players who were suspended for violating the league’s strict gambling policy last season.

The NCAA was informed in May that student-athletes from Iowa State and the University of Iowa were being investigated for gambling violations.

Basketball Starter Ahron Ulis Implicated in Investigation

Ahron Ulis, a guard hailing from Chicago, started 27 games at point guard for Iowa during the 2022-23 basketball season. He averaged 6.1 points, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game in his junior year.

In a complaint, it was stated that Ulis made wagers on a Fan Duel account that was originally set up by his brother. Between February 2021 and December 2022, Ulis placed a total of 1,850 wagers amounting to over $34,800. It was revealed that at least 740 of those bets were made when he was underage. Ulis placed bets on 430 NCAA football and basketball games, including at least one Iowa sporting event.

Last season, the Iowa basketball team finished with a 19-13 record and secured fifth place in the Big Ten. They were unable to qualify for the March Madness basketball tournament after being eliminated in the Big Ten conference tournament by Ohio State.

Ulis has since transferred to Nebraska to play under coach Fred Hoiberg, who was a popular and successful basketball player for Iowa State before pursuing an NBA career.

Fan Duel’s mobile betting app was launched in Iowa in September 2020.

Involvement of Iowa Baseball Player and Football Player

Gehrig Christensen, a catcher for the Iowa baseball team, participated in 11 games for the Hawkeyes last season. He was named after New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig due to his parents’ love for baseball.

Christensen placed wagers on DraftKings using an account under his mother’s name. He made 559 different bets on his own phone, including 23 on Iowa sporting events. The total value of his bets amounted to $2,400, with the majority being on NBA games.

Last season, the Iowa baseball team achieved a record of 44-16 and had high hopes of competing for a national championship in the College World Series. However, their season came to an end with a disappointing loss to North Carolina in the NCAA regionals.

Christensen is no longer a member of the baseball team.

In addition, Aaron Blom, a backup kicker for the Iowa football team, was also implicated in the gambling scandal. Blom achieved academic success at Iowa, making the Dean’s List in five different semesters and being recognized as an Academic All-Big Ten in the past two seasons.

Blom scored four points for the Hawkeyes during the 2022 season, including a successful extra-point attempt in a game against Iowa State. He made 33.3% of his field goal attempts, with a 46-yarder being his longest successful kick.

Similar to Christensen, Blom used an account in his mother’s name. The complaint revealed that Blom, who was only 20 years old at the time, made 170 bets with a total value of $4,400.

The Iowa football team achieved a 7-5 record in the 2022 regular season and secured a spot in the Transperfect Music City Bowl, where they emerged victorious against Kentucky.

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