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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Varez Ward’s alleged gambling ties may have been local

Earlier this week Yahoo! Sports reported that Auburn point guard Varez Ward is currently under investigation by the FBI for allegedly taking part in a point-shaving scheme.

Covers.com reported Friday that multiple Nevada and offshore sportsbooks have denied there being any suspicious betting behavior regarding Auburn basketball games and that Ward’s alleged gambling connection might just be centralized in his hometown of Montgomery, Ala.

At least two Auburn games are reportedly being looked at by the feds, in particular a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25 and a 69-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7. Auburn ended up covering the 9.5-point spread as underdogs to Arkansas, while Alabama was a five-point favorite and easily covered that line.

Ward played poorly in both contests. In the Jan. 25 game, he turned the ball over in his only possession before exiting the game with an apparent leg injury, leaving the Tigers with an inexperienced reserve point guard to take his place (his injury made it impossible for him to throw the game against the spread). In the Feb. 7 game, Ward shot 1-for-5 and turned the ball over six times in 17 minutes of action. Ward, who has reportedly denied any involvement in point-shaving, has been suspended since Feb. 25 after an unnamed Auburn player reportedly informed the coaching staff of the allegations.

That Ward’s alleged gambling ties might only be localized doesn’t make things any less bleak for him. Point-shaving is a severe allegation, and if the feds find him in the wrong, he could face considerable time in prison. It’s hard not to remember the point-shaving scandal in the 90’s involving former Arizona State standout Stevin “Hedake” Smith, who served a year behind bars for his alleged involvement in fixing games with a campus bookie.

Photo credit: Kim Klement, US Presswire

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