Shane Beamer sounds off on gambling in college sports, new recruiting rules

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The Shane Beamer offseason caravan is off and running.

Beamer held his fourth event of the annual Welcome Home Tour on Tuesday in Aiken, where he visited with local reporters and answered questions about some of the most pressing questions hanging over college football.

Here’s a rundown of the topics Beamer broached:

Gambling in college sports

While it remains illegal to bet on sports in the state of South Carolina, gambling has become increasingly mainstream nationally over the past few years. Most recently, that’s led to scandals at Alabama, Iowa and Iowa State involving players and coaches allegedly betting on games and/or providing information to bettors.

Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohanon was fired last week amid a probe into his potential links to suspicious gambling activity on the Alabama-LSU series the last weekend in April. The Ohio Casino Control Commission halted bets on the contest after suspicious wagers were discovered from a bettor reportedly in communication at the time he was placing his wagers, per ESPN.

Monday, it was also announced by the state of Iowa’s board of regents that athletes at Iowa and Iowa State are being investigated for allegations of online sports wagering. Iowa said in a statement 111 individuals had been flagged in the probe, including 26 student-athletes in baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s track and field and wrestling, along with one full-time employee in the university athletics department, per the Des Moines Register.

“We haven’t had any discussions from an SEC standpoint (in the wake of those scandals),” Beamer said. “But it’s something that we always from a university standpoint try and be aware of, try and stay on top of, trying to educate our guys throughout the school year. Reminding coaches that we can’t bet on the NCAA Tournament when March Madness comes around — that’s a pretty standard email that you get. ... But any time you see kind of what’s going on across college athletics a little bit, it’s a good reminder you know what, maybe we need to revisit this again with with our guys.”

NCAA rules forbid wagering and providing information to bettors involved with or associated with sports betting activities concerning college, amateur or professional sports.

Unlimited official visits for football recruits

The NCAA approved sweeping changes to football recruiting on April 14 that include allowing recruits an unlimited number of official visits. Prospective student-athletes were previously limited to just five official visits.

“I’m not a fan of the unlimited official visits,” Beamer said. “I mean, I think by the time the official visits come around, guys, prospects have got it narrowed down. They know the three, four, or five schools (they’re interested in). We signed guys who took one official visit, or two official visits.

“It gets tiresome, I think, for the players, taking official visits. And then if you’re taking 10, you’re missing days of school at some point and things like that, as well. So I’m not a fan of that. That one kind of came out of nowhere, there wasn’t a lot of discussion that we had as coaches or administrators about that one.”

The move stands to complicate what is already a tricky recruiting calendar amid the one-time transfer exemption and transfer portal era. That said, there have been motions to try and regulate when players can leave programs and be immediately eligible.

This year marked the first cycle in which football players were required to enter the transfer portal during one of two windows: one that ran from Dec. 5 to Jan. 18 and a second from April 15 to April 30. Players who enter the portal outside of those windows are not eligible to play immediately at their next school. Graduate transfers, though, are still able to enter the portal at any time and be able to play right away

Would South Carolina bring back players from transfer portal?

While the recruiting calendar is undergoing changes, the transfer portal is nearing five years since its inception in October 2018.

Under current rules, players who enter the transfer portal are allowed to return to their current schools without penalty. That’s led to persistent rumors of players entering the portal in hopes of scoping out potential NIL deals from other programs in what’s become pseudo-free agency in college sports.

South Carolina has yet to have any players enter the portal and ask to return, per Beamer, but he said it’s a situation that could arise.

“I think every situation is different,” Beamer said. “I think a lot of that is based on what was a particular person’s status on the team before they went into portal? Why did they go in the portal? Were they getting pressure from the outside from different people to go in the portal? Why do they want to come back? What are what are their former teammates going to say about him?

“So I think every situation is different and I don’t want to back myself into a corner on any situation. Like I tell our players and coaches, every decision I make as a football coach in South Carolina will always be what I feel like is best for the South Carolina football program — and that’s short term and long term. And that isn’t just necessarily winning games. It’s what’s best for us as a program.”