One under reported story this basketball season so far is the $600 Nick Calathes lost in online poker. The reports from the Gainesville Sun, AP and Yahoo all imply that Calathes is in the clear, just stupid for losing $600 in online poker. However, Yahoo's reporting of former walkon Michael Weisenberg might be the more troubling factoid. Apparently, Weisenberg has dabbled in drugs and now is a hanger on, despite leaving the basketball team. Although, if you had to guess who was the one who started leaking information about the inquiry (investigation I think is too strong a word here), Weisenberg is my guess.
But let's get back to Calathes. No one should be concerned with a $600 lost by a college student in online poker. If you ask any college male, especially at UF, they know people who have lost more at live games or online. Poker has become part of the UF experience. The difference is by junior and senior year, you realize $100 a week on poker (or worse, Ocala Jai Alai) is the dumbest thing you can do in Gainesville next to punching a police horse. (Third is eating at the 13th Street Waffle House between 2-6am.) In my own case, I stopped playing when I had something better to spend money on; a girlfriend.
College basketball and gambling have had a relationship since the days of the 1950s' CCNY and the New York mob, to point shaving at Arizona State and Toledo recently. Calathes did nothing wrong, let's remember that. But as a public figure, Calathes has to keep his head on a swivel. And this applies to all college athletes. The attention on the Florida Gators is just as intense, if not more, than the Miami Heat or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Someone less friendly or looking to make for themselves will catch you drinking a beer underage, or making out with a girl or worse. Being a crappy poker player is not a crime. But in the court of public opinion, everyone is guilty. It's a bit unlucky, but as poker player Phil Hellmuth said, "If luck wasn't involved, I'd win every time." And Calathes has lost more than 600 bucks here. He has lost a level of trust.