After months of investigation, the NCAA has announced the punishment for several Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers who have been involved in a gambling scandal.
This is a brutal blow for the Iowa Hawkeye program, and the sport as a whole. There is a lot to unpack and tons of questions still remain, however Tom Brands and the Iowa Hawkeyes will be without four returning NCAA qualifiers and two returning All-Americans for the remainder of the 2023-2024 season.
Here is a list of each Hawkeye and their punishment:
Abe Assad: Loses one year of eligibility
Nelson Brands: Loses one year of eligibility
Tony Cassioppi: Loses one year of eligibility
Cobe Siebrecht: Loses one year of eligibility
Cullan Schriever: 2-4 match suspension
Patrick Kennedy: 2-4 match suspension
Throughout the months of the investigation, nobody really had a sure idea what the punishments were going to look like.
Many of the Iowa wrestlers involved were vocal about their thoughts on the situation, and were very unpleased on how the NCAA was treating this reinstatement decision. Either way, Brands made sure that his team remained focused on only what they could control.
“It never changes that you’re competing for a national title, and individually it never changes that you’re competing and wrestling for individual titles. It doesn’t change how these guys operate, but it’s natural to check out in some of these situations,” Brands said.
However, it will change for two of the suspended Hawkeyes. With the suspension, both Tony Cassioppi and Abe Assad have completed their careers as Iowa Hawkeyes.
It’s very important to note that the state of Iowa is very strict with their laws regarding online gambling, which has made this entire situation much more intensive that does not have correlation with the NCAA. All wrestlers signed waivers acknowledging the importance of following the rules of online gambling, and were even convinced to attend a compliance meeting regarding the subject.
Amongst this entire scandal, the NCAA just voted and changed their rule on gambling just yesterday. Here is what the conclusions were (Via Pat Mineo on X):
- Gambling on sports teams at your own school (outside of your specific sport) results in a loss of eligibility of one year. Previously it was permanent ineligibility.
This is an important change, because it had a big impact on the suspension decisions for both Patrick Kennedy and Cullan Schriever. Those two will now only be suspended for 2-4 matches, compared to the other wrestlers losing a full year.
With a final decision, Iowa will have a totally different looking lineup. Here is a breakdown of each wrestler projected to remain in the starting lineup.
125: Drake Ayala
With the departure of Spencer Lee, Drake Ayala will attempt to emerge as the next dominant 125-pounder for the Hawkeyes.
Before making his decision to commit to the Hawkeyes, Ayala was one of the most sought out recruits in the 2020 class. He finished his high school career as a three-time Iowa state champion and compiled a record of 171-3.
Ayala then went on to start as a true freshman and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Last season, he used his redshirt yet still was able to compete and ended the year with a 13-1 record.
Now starting his redshirt sophomore year, Ayala should be able to win a ton of matches for the Hawkeyes and would not be surprising to see him standing on the podium at the end of the year.
133: Brody Teske
Last season, the Hawkeyes found themselves a really tough 133-pounder in Brody Teske. Teske has moved around a bit during his collegiate career, originally starting at Penn State, then to Northern Iowa, and now as a Hawkeye.
However, Teske continues to win matches and has proved himself to be right on the brink of an All-American season. Teske has battled injuries, but has competed and gone deep in the NCAA tournament for the past three seasons.
141: Real Woods
Since transferring to Iowa, Real Woods has grown into the buzzsaw everyone thought he would be. Although he just fell short to UNC’s Andrew Alirez in the 2023 NCAA Championship title, Woods is clearly one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the country.
With Alirez taking an Olympic redshirt, Woods is now the favorite and top ranked wrestler at 141-pounds in the country.
The Hawkeyes will need Woods to continue dominating throughout their dual season, and there is no doubt he will continue to do that.
149: Victor Voinovich
Voinovich is the start of multiple Iowa wrestlers making their debut in the 2023-2024 season, and he can end up making a huge impact in the lineup for the Hawkeyes.
Formerly at Oklahoma State, Voinovich transferred to Iowa after finishing the 2022-2023 season with a 17-13 record and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Iowa lost Max Murin who started at 149-pounds for the last three seasons, and now have filled that hole with bringing in Voinovich.
157: Jared Franek
Iowa landed a huge splash in the transfer portal with Jared Franek, the former North Dakota State All-American who placed fourth at 157-pounds at the NCAA Championships last season.
With a coaching change at NDSU, Franek opted for a fresh start and a competitive home for his senior season. Along with his NDSU teammate, Michael Caliendo, the two All-Americans will look to continue their dominance in Carver Arena.
165: Michael Caliendo
Caliendo and Franek announced that both would be transferring to Iowa for the 2023-2024 season, and will add much needed with Schriever and Kennedy out of the lineup for some time.
Caliendo, only going into his sophomore season, finished his redshirt freshman year with a 29-5 record and a seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships at 165-pounds. Caliendo will most definitely continue to improve, and now is in a Hawkeye wrestling room flooded with All-Americans.
174: Aiden Riggins
Riggins, an Iowa native, will start for the Hawkeyes in his redshirt freshman season. In his redshirt season just a year ago, Riggins tallied an 11-5 record and won the Flanagan Open.
Riggins also Placed third at Cyclone Open and was sixth at Soldier Salute.
In his first start of the 2023-2024 season, Riggins defeated Cal Baptist’s Peter Acciardi, 15-4.
184: Brennan Swafford
After finishing his first season as a Hawkeye in 2021-2022, Brennan Swafford finished the year with a 14-7 record and placed sixth at the Southern Scuffle.
Last year, Swafford missed the majority of the season due to injury, but went 2-0 in his time on the mat. Swafford is a graduate student with years of prior collegiate wrestling at Graceland University, and now finds himself as the starter at 184-pounds for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
197: Zach Glazier
Going into his junior season, Zach Glazier has an opportunity to win a lot of matches for the Hawkeyes.
Glazier has been on the team since 2020, and has compiled a 32-7 record since then. Now in the lineup as a full-time starter, Glazier can prove to be a big part of Iowa’s 2023-2024 squad.
Just this past weekend in their dual against Cal Baptist, Glazier defeated Eli Sheeran by majority decision, 11-2.
285: Bradley Hill
Since 2020, no other heavyweight than Tony Cassioppi has started for the Hawkeyes. This season, that changes with Bradley Hill.
Hill was a dominant high school athlete, both a wrestler and football player. Hill won the Iowa state tournament in his junior season at 220-pounds, also finishing second and sixth in other years.
Hill took a redshirt in his freshman season, and finished 15-6 with a first place finish at the Flanagan Open.
To start the 2023-2024 season, Hill dominated Cal Baptist’s Max Acciardi, 16-4.