‘It’s just beyond the line;’ Dayton AD defends players after receiving hateful messages by gamblers

DAYTON — In a rare show of emotion, University of Dayton head coach Anthony Grant used his postgame news conference Tuesday to criticize gamblers for sending what he described as hateful messages to his players online.

>>RELATED: ‘This type of behavior is not okay;’ Ohio casino control concerned over hate messages sent to UD basketball players by gamblers

Grant made the comments Tuesday during his post game media availability after the Flyers defeated the Davidson Wildcats 68-61 at UD Arena. Grant called out fans, but more specifically online sports gamblers, for directing comments towards his players in the past week.

Many of these social media comments were posted after the Flyers suffered a last-minute defeat to the VCU Rams. Dayton led for the majority of the game but gave up the lead and lost the game in the final seconds after a turnover led to the game-winning basket by VCU’s Nick Kern.

“I have to say something because it is just necessary at this point. There’s some laws that have recently been enacted, that really to me could change the landscape of what college sports is all about. And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me,” Grant said in the postgame news conference Tuesday.

“They have families. They don’t deserve that. Mental health is real,” Grant said.

>>RELATED: Legal sports betting highlights concerns for gambling addiction in Ohio

UD athletics representatives didn’t share with News Center 7′s Mike Campbell some of the comments and messages directed towards the players. However many messages remain public as of Wednesday afternoon criticizing the Flyers’ performance and blaming them for losing their money.

“You rigging games for sure, what a chump, hope you get caught,” one tweet reads. “Thanks for blowing the cover at the end. Praying y’all lose,” read another.

UD Athletic Director Neil Sullivan echoed Grant’s comments, saying gambling has changed the landscape of sports in the state and that’s bringing people to cross a line.

“(The student-athletes) do not deserve to be verbally harassed, threatened with just hateful, threatening comments, it’s just beyond the line,” Sullivan said.

He added that criticism of the team and players are understandable, especially with a prolific program like UD.

“What’s not part of the territory is when people go to the lengths they’ve gone to, they mention their bets and how much money they’ve lost,” Sullivan said.

Grant’s comments caught the attention of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, whose leaders said they are looking into the comments and how the commission can respond.

“The commission does have the authority by the General Assembly to put people on an exclusion list for all gambling in the state of Ohio,” Executive Director Matthew Schuler said in a previously scheduled meeting Wednesday morning.

“I think it’s incumbent upon the commission to look into that very power that if social media is able to help us determine who these individuals are that are speaking out hate to kids— then the commission has the responsibility to make sure that those people cannot engage in legal sports gaming in the State of Ohio.”

The Flyers return to action Saturday in Washington DC against George Washington. The game tips-off at 12:30 p.m. and will air on the Home of the Flyers, 1290 AM and 95.7 WHIO.

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