IOWA CITY, Iowa — As he enters year six with the Iowa Hawkeyes, defensive tackle Noah Shannon faces more uncertainty than at any other time in his football life, and it’s from his own doing.
Shannon, a two-year starter, faces NCAA ramifications for some type of improper gambling, and the investigation is ongoing. Unlike a few of his current and former teammates — as well as several players from the Iowa State Cyclones — Shannon doesn’t expect to encounter legal issues. But what he’s facing is the loss of time, and he doesn’t have much of it left.
“I’m not gonna let this define me in any way, shape, or form,” Shannon said at Iowa’s media day on Friday. “I don’t know when the NCAA will come out with the ruling, but I’ll be ready whenever — if there is a suspension.”
In early May, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation notified Iowa and Iowa State universities that it had opened a probe for illegal gambling by athletes at both schools. Both Iowa and Iowa State informed the NCAA that a total of 41 athletes — 26 at Iowa, 15 at Iowa State — were under investigation and ruled ineligible until the organization cleared them or adjudicated their cases.
Spanning the past 10 days, seven Iowa athletes, one former Iowa student manager and eight current or former Iowa State athletes were charged with aggravated misdemeanors for gambling infractions. Six were accused of betting on their own team, while another gambled on another team at his school. All of those constitute the loss of permanent eligibility, according to NCAA parameters released on June 28.
Athletes are banned from gambling on sports the NCAA sponsors, including the NBA, NFL and other professional sports. For those who wagered less than $200, there is no suspension. For those betting up to $500, it’s a loss of 10 percent of a season. It moves to 20 percent of a season for $800 wagered. For total bets greater than $800, it’s at least a 30 percent suspension and perhaps more.
Shannon isn’t the only Iowa football player under NCAA investigation. All but one of the players accused are practicing, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. Until Friday, Shannon wasn’t cleared to even practice after shoulder surgery in January. He will be available starting Monday.
“He’s in a holding pattern like the other players,” Ferentz said. “He hasn’t been accused of any crimes, but he does have an NCAA issue to deal with, and we’ll let it ride out and see what the NCAA has to say about it.
“Noah is one of the best kids we have on our football team. He’s a strong, respected leader, tremendous young person and has been nothing, from my standpoint, than be a model football player for us. I’m really proud of everything he’s done.”
Shannon was one of three Iowa players initially selected to represent the program at Big Ten media days last month in Indianapolis. But a week before the event, Shannon opted out and openly admitted his involvement in the NCAA probe.
“I spoke to KF actually the week before we went on the Fourth of July break and kind of brought it up to him and told him I don’t know if it’s a good idea if I represent our team at media day, just with the investigation pending,” Shannon said. “I thought it would be smart for someone else to fill my role like (linebacker) Jay Higgins over there. I mean, I don’t want what’s going on with me off the field to take away from what’s going on with the team.”
“I’m proud of the fact that he did come forward and say, ‘I’m not sure I want to go to Indianapolis,’” Ferentz said. “That gives you a little indication into his character, I think.”
Iowa, Iowa State student-athletes charged with misdemeanors for gambling
Shannon didn’t say what events he bet on or how much he wagered. Until he was cleared medically, Shannon spent his time tutoring Iowa’s true freshman defensive linemen. Depending on the length of his suspension, he’ll do the same thing. He deleted his social media accounts and said, “Honestly, life’s been a lot better without it.”
Still, Shannon wants to play football. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten defensive tackle last season and decided to return for a sixth season rather than test the NFL market.
“I feel like anybody would be anxious awaiting about something coming out about them,” Shannon said. “I’ve just been getting really lost in my work here at camp, just working with the young guys, working on my rehab. I don’t have social media, so I’m not like on it scrolling through Twitter, looking at stuff all day. So I’m in a good headspace right now.
“I think it has to do with how I was raised. My mom and dad always raised me to be honest, and you can get in trouble for lying. So that’s kind of how I thought about it. I wanted to come forward. I felt like the team should know. As a leader on the team, I don’t want to have any secrets from anyone.”
(Top photo: Keith Gillett / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)