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Fred Hoiberg Addresses Ahron Ulis’ Status Following Gambling Charges

August 02, 2023

As first reported by The Gazette, Nebraska point guard and former Iowa Hawkeye Ahron Ulis has been charged with tampering with records amid the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s probe into sports gambling at Iowa and Iowa State.

According to the charge, Ulis allegedly made approximately 1,850 bets using his older brother’s information including at least one wager on an Iowa sporting event. More than 740 of the bets allegedly happened before his 21st birthday, the legal betting age in Iowa.

Under NCAA rules, an athlete who bets on his or her school’s sporting events potentially faces permanent loss of eligibility, while an athlete who bets on other schools could face a half-season suspension.

Ulis is not participating during Nebraska’s games in Spain, and Coach Fred Hoiberg said on Monday that Nebraska was “gathering information on a situation that Ahron is dealing with,” but declined further comment.

After Nebraska’s second game on Wednesday, Hoiberg again spoke with local media via Zoom and addressed the reports surrounding Ulis.

“We’ve been working with compliance on this since we were made aware of a possible eligibility issue with him,” Hoiberg said. “We were not aware of this issue at the time we were recruiting him in the transfer portal this spring. We weren’t certain where the eligibility question would end up, we just focused on the basketball end of things this summer. We had no knowledge of any possible legal charges until I was made aware of it just before tonight’s game. I can’t and I’m not going to comment on any of the legal issues.”

Hoiberg said Nebraska was made aware of the potential eligibility issue back in May after Ulis had already signed with the team but he has not heard anything regarding a potential timeline for a resolution the situation. While Ulis will not play in Spain, Hoiberg said the plan is for Ulis to continue practicing with the team once they return to Lincoln until the receive more information.

Hoiberg said he doesn’t want to speculate about the future of the point guard position until they know more, but he did say he likes what he’s seen from others stepping up in Ulis’ absence.

“I’ve been really pleased with Jamarques [Lawrence], how he’s run the show for us in the first couple games,” Hoiberg said. “Cale Jacobsen has given us really good minutes at that spot. Ramel [Lloyd Jr.] has shown flashes of being able to handle the ball. I feel really good about our bigs being able to initiate offense. Brice Williams is certainly a guy that can get the ball up the floor and get us into our system. So I think this team is built to be a multi-handler team.” 

Nebraska still has one open scholarship and Hoiberg reiterated his stance on potentially filling that spot: the staff will be diligent and will continue to evaluate their options but only plan to add someone who fits in with the culture they’ve already built with the current roster.

In the short term, Hoiberg said he did address Ulis’ situation with the team as the Huskers are attempting to make the most of their tour of Spain.

“I didn’t want them finding out about it on social media,” Hoiberg said. “The thing that we need to do right now is to make sure that we help Ahron as best we can throughout this process and to see see where it goes. It’s a great group of kids and they’re going to rally around Ahron and again, we’ll see what happens with it. But what we’re trying to do is really make this a great experience for everybody, not only on the basketball floor, but we’ve gone on some really nice tours … 

“We’re going to continue to try to enjoy the experience with this trip. They’re going to be able to look back on this and realize what a fun experience it was to experience another culture and continue to improve as a basketball team. These foreign trips are awesome in a lot of ways, as much as any is the guys spending time together. Whenever we do a team meal we take the phones away from the guys and just to see them interact has been a lot of fun for all of us.”

With Ulis not playing in Spain, Nebraska has nine available players for their three games (two completed, one remaining) including Juwan Gary who is playing limited minutes as the team eases him back in following his season-ending shoulder injury.

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