Gambling-related allegations against the University of Tulsa's athletic director have drawn the attention of the NCAA, which has taken a hard stand against wagering it says could undermine the integrity of the sports it governs.
Officials at the private university said Wednesday they notified the NCAA immediately after learning on Tuesday that Director of Athletics Ross Parmley was linked to the criminal gambling case against Teddy Mitchell of Oklahoma City, said University of Tulsa spokeswoman Kayla Acebo.
"We understand the serious nature of this, and that's why we are investigating this, and we are certainly going to work very cooperatively and closely with the NCAA on this," Acebo told The Associated Press.
She declined to elaborate on the nature of the investigation.
NCAA officials also said they cannot comment on current or potential investigations, but said in a statement that they oppose all forms of "legal and illegal sports wagering because it threatens the wellbeing of student-athletes and can undermine the integrity of college sports.
"NCAA rules do not allow student-athletes, athletics staff members, university staff with athletics department responsibilities or conference office staff to engage in sports wagering on any level — college, professional or otherwise — in which the NCAA holds a championship," the statement said.
In a recently unsealed FBI affidavit that accuses Mitchell of running an illegal gambling operation, Parmley is described as an "admitted gambler" who wrote a $1,782 check to Mitchell in late 2009. Parmley, who is not charged in the case, was hired as Tulsa's AD in January after serving as the school's associate athletic director for operations and administration since 2007.
Parmley, 39, was placed on paid leave Tuesday, said University President Steadman Upham in a brief statement.
Any investigation into Parmley's activities almost certainly will focus on whether he placed bets on University of Tulsa athletic events and whether any student-athletes may have been involved, said attorney Don Jackson, who teaches a sports law class at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law and who has represented numerous student-athletes and coaches in cases involving NCAA investigations.
"It's more of an issue if he's betting on college sports, because he essentially would be considered an insider as far as collegiate sports is concerned, meaning he would have access to information that other people that were involved in gambling might not have," Jackson said.
Telephone and email messages left Wednesday with Parmley and his attorney, Derek Chance, were not immediately returned.
Chance told the AP on Tuesday that Parmley is not a target or subject of the FBI investigation and that he has cooperated with federal authorities in their probe of Mitchell's alleged gambling activities.
Mitchell, 57, and his two sons are among nine people named in an 81-count federal indictment unsealed in September. All are accused of participating in an illegal gambling business that operated poker games, took sports wagers, used an illegal gambling website and laundered illegal gambling proceeds.
Mitchell, who prosecutors allege was the leader of the operation, has pleaded not guilty. Mitchell's attorney, Scott Adams, has described his client as a professional gambler who did nothing illegal.
Located in the state's second-largest city, the University of Tulsa is a private institution with a little more than 4,000 students. Nicknamed the Golden Hurricane, the university is a member of Conference USA. Its football team will play the University of Central Florida in Tulsa on Saturday for the Conference USA championship.