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Tennessee Football: Jacob Warren, Cooper Mays talk gambling issues in college athletics and how Josh Heupel has addressed the topic

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As other athletes and coaches face serious gambling charges, Tennessee Football head coach Josh Heupel is trying to stay ahead of potential problems with his players.

“Coach Heupel is actually really good,” Vols center Cooper Mays said of reminding the team about possible pitfalls to avoid – like gambling. “He hits on the rules of the program, like, dang, near before every meeting or once a week at least. Everybody knows. 

“There’s nobody that should not know exactly what our rules and expectations are. So, ‘no gambling’ is one of those. And, it’s heavily stressed. We did a whole other separate meeting for gambling specifically because of those incidents. So it’s it’s pretty evident what is expected from Heup. No doubt.”

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Mays was referring to recent issues at Iowa, Iowa State and Alabama concerning gambling. The Crimson Tide recently fired its baseball coach over gambling allegations. Iowa and Iowa State are facing dozens of suspensions for gambling, which is an NCAA violation despite it being legal throughout most of the country, including Iowa. Both schools are currently being investigated.

“You look around the country right now and, yeah, obviously there’s schools (with gambling issues),” Tennessee Football tight end Jacob Warren said during The Vol Report. “I’m not going to talk about them, but there are schools that, they’re getting a lot of people – coaches, players, different people around the program – that either are placing bets themselves or giving out information for bets or getting other people to put money down for bets. 

“It’s illegal. You can’t do it. It’s not allowed.”

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Gambling is legal in Tennessee and incredibly easy. Gone are the days of finding a bookie in a shady part of town. Bets can be placed on a smartphone.

“It’s so easy because you have apps that, literally, with a couple touches of the screen, you’re already making a bet,” Mays said. “…It’s very accessible, like everything else nowadays. Everything’s accessible to a fault almost, how easy it is. It’s definitely really enticing I guess if you have the money, it’s really easy and you’ve got that kind of personality that gets hooked on gambling. 

“I’m personally not a gambler. I’m a big cautious kind of guy. It would make me very upset to see $100 just go down the drain on a toss of a coin, personally, to me.”

There’s also the potential of players getting caught up in shady situations in which they might be paid to provide information too gamblers. The potential for trouble exists even if a player never places a bet.

“Nobody wants someone that’s going to be giving out secrets or tips or advantages to people to help them make money,” Warren said.

Student-athletes certainly could have gambled before it became legal. It was just more difficult to find a bookie that could handle the bets. Now, with the accessibility and players having some NIL money in their pockets, there is obviously potential for a massive problem. 

Tennessee Football certainly doesn’t want to be a school in question, and Heupel seems intent on being proacative in avoiding a potentially devastating situation.

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