UTEP ousts 3 basketball players involved in betting

EL PASO, Texas — UTEP kicked three players off the men’s basketball team Tuesday, saying they had bet on at least one sporting event.

The players were not believed to have bet on UTEP games or participated in point-shaving to influence the outcome for bettors, said Richard Adauto, the university’s executive vice president. He said university officials did not suspect anyone else on the team of gambling.

“We think we have cleaned up what we found and heard,” Adauto said.

The three players are McKenzie Moore, Justin Crosgile and Jalen Ragland. They are not expected back on campus for any reason, including classes, Adauto said.

“Their collegiate basketball careers are over,” he said.

Coach Tim Floyd said he learned about the alleged gambling when he received a “random tip. I*ve lived in this town for 22 years.” He then called athletic director Bob Stull, who contacted Adauto.

They decided to contact the FBI, which confirmed it is investigating.

“It*s an ongoing investigation based on a referral from the El Paso Police Department, and the three gentlemen (Floyd, Adauto and Stull) who were at the press conference today,” said Michael Martinez, FBI spokesman in El Paso. “We commend them on their prompt action and continuing cooperation.”

Moore, a junior college transfer from Pleasant Hill, Calif., was averaging 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Crosgile and Ragland had smaller roles, but coach Tim Floyd said he had expected all three players to contribute to this year’s team, which is 10-5 with Conference USA play starting Thursday against Charlotte.

“I’m crushed personally that this is happened,” Floyd said.

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a message left seeking comment.

Floyd is in his third year with the Miners, trying to rebuild the program where he was an assistant under Don Haskins from 1978-86. In his first year, UTEP went 25-10 and made the NIT. The Miners slipped to 15-17 in his second season and went 18-14 last year, good enough for third in CUSA.

Floyd arrived in El Paso after serving as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets. Before that, he led USC to three straight 20-win seasons and three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, but quit in 2009 after he was accused of giving $1,000 in cash to a middleman who helped steer O.J. Mayo to the school.

Floyd has steadfastly denied the allegations while the school wound up banning itself from postseason play and throwing out the wins from Mayo’s lone season with the Trojans in 2007-08.

While USC self-imposed sanctions on its basketball program over Mayo’s recruitment, the NCAA did not find any violations committed by Floyd. When he became UTEP’s coach in 2010, Floyd said he wanted it to be clear that his resignation from USC was “not an admission of guilt.”

Adauto said the incident should not damage the image of the coach or the basketball program.

“This is a reflection on individuals who did a stupid thing,” he said. “You can’t control people who do stupid things.”

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