The University of Dayton’s men’s basketball team defeated Davidson 68-61 Tuesday night, but you could hardly tell by the tone of head coach Anthony Grant’s postgame press conference.
“There’s some laws that have recently been enacted, that to me, it could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about,” Grant said. “And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me.”
Grant took an emotional pause before continuing.
“They have families,” Grant said. “They don’t deserve that. Mental health is real.”
While Grant didn’t directly say that his players were being criticized by gamblers, Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan confirmed with the Dayton Daily News that players recently dealt with online hate from angry bettors. That explains Grant’s comment about recent laws, as legal sports betting went live in Ohio on Jan. 1, giving Ohioans access to more than 15 mobile sportsbooks.
Online hate after VCU loss
At the end of Grant’s press conference, a reporter asked the head coach if social media posts directed at players or the team made it back to Grant. Dayton’s head coach confirmed that he does see some of those posts.
Looking at the reaction to the official team Twitter account and individual player accounts following the team’s 63-62 loss to VCU on Friday, it’s easy to see what Grant might have been referring to.
Dayton, which was a 7.5-point favorite in the home conference game against VCU, blew a 14-point halftime lead in the loss. Replies to the team’s final score tweet were brutal.
@NCAA please investigate this team for fixing and/or gambling-related corruption.
— GoatedSports (@sports_goated) January 14, 2023
You cost me a lot of money. How do you take a lost in 2 minutes pic.twitter.com/pfsajimHBo
— Nalegwu (@Nalegwu1) January 14, 2023
THE CHOKERS pic.twitter.com/iDcqwrydaQ
— YOGI! (@4kgoldenchild) January 14, 2023
Replies were particularly harsh toward freshman guard Mike Sharavjamts, who committed a late turnover in the loss.
That has to go down as one of the worst choke jobs in history, ever. Sharavjamts needs to sleep outside in the cold tonight
— Matt Wo (@mattwo_) January 14, 2023
His teammate Toumani Camara went off for 27 points and 11 rebounds, but he also turned it over nine times, which led to a few angry replies and even his username being tagged on a post.
9 turnovers from @toomany_buckets 🤦♂️ kids a bum
— sports (@stinkers1986) January 14, 2023
It’s unclear if players received additional hate via direct messages on social media platforms, as Grant declined to get into specifics during his press conference. It also appeared that the majority of the angriest commenters weren’t actually Dayton fans at all, but rather gamblers using anonymous accounts.
Still, Grant geared his comments toward Dayton fans in general.
“I’m just asking all the Flyer fans just to understand that we’re dealing with 18-, 21-, 22-year-olds, and this is about them,” Grant said. “This is about them.”
Matthew Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said Wednesday that the OCCC may have to look into banning Ohio bettors who direct hateful messages on social media to college athletes. It’s unclear what impact that process would actually have, however, as tracking down bettors using burner accounts on social media could be a challenge. There’s also no guarantee all the negative social media replies came from people in Ohio, and the OCCC doesn’t have regulatory authority outside the state.
Photo: Lee Luther Jr./USA TODAY