An Indiana man at the center of investigations into suspicious bets on an Alabama baseball game this spring has been banned from the state's casinos and sportsbooks, a gaming commission official confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
The Indiana Gaming Commission added Bert Neff of Mooresville to its involuntary exclusion list, which permanently bars him from entering any casino or placing bets with a sportsbook in the state.
Jenny Reske, deputy director at the Indiana Gaming Commission, told ESPN that Neff was added to the exclusion list after a review of his alleged actions on April 28. Neff allegedly entered the sportsbook at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and asked to make a conspicuously large bet on LSU to beat Alabama in an SEC baseball game that night in Baton Rouge, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the matter.
The size of the bet requested on a regular-season college baseball game -- upwards of $100,000, according to media reports -- caused employees at the sportsbook to become suspicious, and video surveillance subsequently revealed that Neff was communicating with then-Alabama head baseball coach Brad Bohannon, ESPN previously reported.
Neff's attorney Jeff Baldwin told ESPN on Thursday that he and his client dispute the reports that Neff attempted to place a large straight bet on LSU.
"There was only one bet involving LSU, and it was a parlay," Baldwin said.
Reske said Neff's presence in casinos or participation in online sports betting would adversely affect or call into question the integrity of gambling operations. Neff was informed of the decision in a letter dated Sept. 12 and can appeal, Reske said.
Neff is a subject in ongoing investigations in Indiana as well as by the NCAA and gaming regulators in Ohio, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the matter. The Indiana Gaming Commission has also been investigating additional bets on LSU in the game in question that were placed with the state's sportsbooks.
Baldwin said he didn't believe Neff had been contacted by investigators for the NCAA or state gaming regulators.
In May, two Cincinnati baseball staff members were dismissed following an investigation into possible NCAA violations, and, according to multiple sources, linked to Neff, whose son Andrew was a pitcher for the Bearcats. Andrew Neff has since entered the transfer portal. Head baseball coach Scott Googins resigned May 31, two weeks after his staff members were fired.
"We don't believe that Bert Neff had anything to do with the firings of the Cincinnati coaches," Baldwin told ESPN, adding Neff knew the two staff members but "didn't have any gambling interactions with them."
University of Cincinnati associate athletic director Zach Stipe told ESPN in a statement that the athletics department does not comment on specific personnel decisions.
Text messages obtained by ESPN show Neff frequently contacted Googins in the months leading up to the Alabama-LSU betting controversy. The texts include pictures of betting slips on tennis and the NFL, pitching advice and a request for a coaching job. Googins did not acknowledge the references to betting and rarely responded to the texts, which are dated from Jan. 15 through early May.
ESPN obtained the texts from Cincinnati through a records request for communications from the two staff members and Googins mentioning Neff. Googins compiled the texts and emailed them with the subject line "Bert Neff" to the school's associate athletic director of compliance, Trever Wright, on May 9, a day after Cincinnati started an internal review. The university confirmed to ESPN that the texts were between Googins and Neff.
ESPN was unable to reach Googins for comment.
Neff played baseball for the University of Louisville in the mid-1990s and coached travel baseball and other youth sports in Indiana for several years. He remained connected in college baseball recruiting circles and, according to the text messages, had coaching aspirations.
Neff was also known as a high-volume gambler, at times risking upwards of $50,000 a day on a variety of sports, according to multiple sources familiar with his betting.
On Jan. 21, Neff texted Googins receipts from the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati of two winning bets on NFL games. He placed a $40,000 two-team parlay on the Chiefs and Giants that netted nearly $60,000 and a $2,500 bet on the over/under total points in the first half of the Giants-Eagles game. "Don't mess with the wizard!" he wrote.
A month later, Googins received several images of bets on a tennis match between Casper Ruud and Guido Andreozzi at the Mexican Open. The texts show Neff bet $195,000 on 16 different points during the match to win over $280,000.
"I win 100k last night betting on tennis :)," the text said. "Dude couldn't return a guys serve and I just kept betting each point. These are all individual bets:)"
No bets on college baseball were included in the text messages.
Baldwin characterized the text messages as between two old friends and added that "discussing [betting] is not something necessarily that means anyone acted on those discussions."
On April 18, after East Carolina completed a three-game sweep against Cincinnati, Googins got a text asking for a job: "Hire my ass..... And let me save this for you!!
I can coach in SEC!! It's not bout that.... its about helping you!!!!"
In the same conversation, Neff appeared to reference Bohannon, who was terminated in May after an internal review by the University of Alabama. Neff claimed in the text that Bohannon wanted to hire him. Neither Bohannon nor his attorney responded to messages left by ESPN.
"Make me an unpaid coach....who you think is going to make this gap quicker than anyone for you??? No one you have now can change the roster n bring in players than me!!! That's why Bo wants me," the texts said. "He wants me to come in n get them to next level in SEC....... But he knows I can evaluate and find players
But we have to figure this out or I am going to take Alabama coach n I probably can't help after that...bc I am going to follow Bo after he leaves Alabama after next year"
Days after Neff allegedly placed the bet on the Alabama-LSU game, Googins received a text that read, "That other thing isn't anything like its being portrayed on my end ..lot of fabrication n lot of things from my end that are not correct....... it's way deeper than some bet I made on my own...just trust that n we will be able to talk soon enough.."
It is unknown whether the bet referred to in the text was on the Alabama-LSU game.
"They shouldn't not be letting people bet on college sports," Neff added in the texts. ".........kids are betting them at a rate thats disturbing and it's going to be come out soon how widespread it is.......
"it's a problem and it's way beyond anything you can imagine.....no team in any sport would field a team once they are done with what they are probably doing right now......all college betting needs to be halted immediately!!!"