Two University of Florida football players who were not suspended fromthe Gators' football team during disciplinary actions for gambling last October made illegal bets with bookmakers, according to an investigative report released by the university Thursday.
Senior punter Hank Rone and senior placekicker John David Francis used the telephone to place illegal wagers on National Football League games, the report said. Using the telephone to place bets is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Four other UF players - quarterbacks Kyle Morris, Shane Matthews, G.A. Mangus and wide receiver Brady Ackerman - were suspended indefinitely last season after admitting they placed bets through a bookie in Athens, Ga., on college and professional football games.
Alachua State Attorney Len Register said the university's report
summarizing its investigation did not specify whether Rone and Francis engaged in bookmaking. The police report, however, included evidence that the two had placed illegal bets over the telephone and are subject to prosecution.
The reports, which detailed the mechanics of the bookmaking operation between students at Florida and the University of Georgia, as well as a fantasy football league involving 15 Gators athletes, was forwarded to the state attorney's office.
Police have recommended that Mangus and Ackerman be charged with
bookmaking, a second-degree felony. Morris, Matthews, Rone, Francis and nine other UF players could face misdemeanor charges.
Register said Thursday he plans to interview Rone, Francis, Arnsparger and Bernard before deciding whether to file any criminal charges next week. Ackerman and Thomas Burton Jeffries, a University of Georgia student accused of bookmaking, declined to comment.
Arnsparger, Bernard and other UF athletes named in the report could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The university has recommended that Morris, Matthews and Ackerman be reinstated to the program in time for spring practice. UF officials have been notified by the NCAA of its decision regarding those reinstatements, but have withheld any announcement. School officials said they will make an announcement "soon."
UF investigators said Rone and Francis' activities "included" gambling in a fantasy football league. University counsel Pamela Bernard's Feb. 13 report to interim president Robert A. Bryan and athletic director Bill Arnsparger says that four student athletes gambled on intercollegiate athletics in violation of NCAA rules.
"There is at least a minor discrepancy. as to how many people were involved in the bookmaking enterprise," Register said. "The (police) report seems to find a different conclusion."
Morris, who quarterbacked the Gators to a 5-1 record while passing for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns, was suspended indefinitely along with three other players after admitting he bet on college and professional football games from Sept. 2 until Oct. 14.
University interviews with UF players and coaches concluded that the wagers never exceeded $100 and no bets were placed on games involving Florida. An anonymous letter addressed to Bryan, which was received by Arnsparger, alerted UF officials to the gambling ring and accused players of betting on Florida games.
According to the university report, Gators assistant football coaches Phil Maggio and Bill Cubit warned Morris and Matthews to end their gambling activities two or three days before the anonymous letter arrived, saying, "The FBI said if (you) get out now, (you'll) be okay."
In October, Cubit and Maggio told St. Petersburg Times reporters they had no knowledge of gambling activities among Gators football players prior to the indefinite suspensions. The university report concluded that the coaches believed the gambling by student-athletes was limited to "friendly, poker-type" betting."
- Times correspondents Ron Kaspriske and Joshua L. Weinstein contributed to this report.