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Problems with gambling ‘scare you to death'
Big 12 working with Vegas firm that monitors betting trends

By John Helsley Published: October 24, 2007
Mack Brown so fears the evils of gambling, he pleads with his players to keep Texas injuries secret — even from mom and dad.

Big brother is watching, too, as the Big 12 Conference maintains a working relationship with a Las Vegas firm that monitors betting trends.

"We tell our players,” Brown said, ‘If you're going to talk to even your parents, don't talk about injuries. Be really, really careful, because it puts you in a tough spot, because it looks like for some reason you might be putting information out.' ”

The Longhorns coach isn't so much concerned about the parents racing to lay money down with bookies. His point is you never know who's listening.

"If they tell somebody at the drug store, the grocery store, then it just grows,” Brown said.

"Gambling scares you to death. It's another one of those things that is not an issue, until you have it.”

A 2003 report issued by the NCAA suggested it's a very real issue, with student-athletes involved in widespread gambling of some sort.

The report spurred the Big 12 to raise its awareness on gambling and its potential influence on games, leading to the hiring of Las Vegas Sports Consultants Inc., a group that also works with the NCAA, NFL, NBA and NHL.

The Big 12's alliance with LVSC, in its third year, is one phase of the league's gambling program that also includes background reviews that include court document research, as well as education of athletes and officials.

The connection with LVSC delivers an insider's view of betting lines and trends and how they might relate to Big 12 schools in football and men's basketball, the college sports where lines are set.

"They inform us if there's any kind of concern about the way the lines move or on money that comes in on the game at the last minute, stuff like that,” Beebe said.

"So far, knock on wood, we haven't had any issues. But we decided that's a worthwhile effort.”

Beebe was concerned last month when it was revealed that Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione was e-mailing certain donors with "insider” updates that included, among other items of interest, injury information, although no links to gambling have surfaced.

"It's unfortunate, because I think he's figured out and others, that it was not the thing to do,” Beebe said.

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