9 Biggest NCAA Basketball Scandals and Suspensions
Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim is currently in big trouble with the NCAA for various infractions and violations during his tenure. And while he’s far from the first NCAA basketball bigwig to do wrong by the sport, he is probably the most successful. And that makes his one of the biggest NCAA basketball scandals of all time.
What are some of the others? Well, it just so happens that NCAA basketball scandals and suspensions are the subject of today’s list. So to read more about how college basketball has been used and abused (and, to be fair, maintained through disciplinary action) over the years, just keep clicking those little arrows.
Let’s get started, shall we?
You'll notice that a lot of the scandals enumerated here involve the practice of "point-shaving," which is intentionally giving up points in a game in order to manipulate the point spread in the end score. And you don't have to be a big, high-profile basketball program to get caught at this, as Tulane University proved back in 1985. The resulting scandal was big news at the time, and led to the temporary dissolution of Tulane's entire men's basketball program for a few years.
Tulane University isn't the only school with a big point shaving scandal in its history. Another is Boston College, which suffered its own point shaving scandal during the 1978-79 season. More details can be found at the scandal's Wikipedia page here, which has these impossibly cool chapter headings: "1. The Scheme. 2. The Setup. 3. The Fix. 4. The Fall."
Boston College Point Shaving
Wrapping up this little trilogy of point shaving scandals across NCAA basketball history is the oldest and the biggest, involving a total of seven schools in all back in the late 40s and early 50s. Most of the "key players" were on the City College of New York team, and when the scandal broke a host of suspensions and arrests followed. The Kentucky Wildcats had to cancel a whole season, but they eventually recovered. The New York area teams never did, which is why there's no good college basketball in the country is so terrible.
CCNY Point Shaving
Point shaving is just one way for a university basketball program to get into trouble. The University of Michigan found another way when they got busted for an elaborate money laundering and gambling scheme back in the 90s involving booster Ed Martin (pictured above). Various sanctions, suspensions, and indictments followed, and college basketball felt just a little bit less innocent afterward.
University of Michigan Gambling and Money Laundering
Besides gambling, money laundering, and other actual crimes, another common theme of NCAA basketball scandals is bending (or breaking) academic standards in the name of competitive success. At the University of Minnesota in 1999, the lid was blown off of a system that included a counseling office manager writing papers for players so they could pass their classes and play on the team. NCAA and self-imposed sanctions were the result.
University of Minnesota Academic Fraud
The aforementioned brouhaha at Syracuse University resulted in the suspension of head coach Jim Boeheim for nine games, and it would be easier to list what the school DIDN'T do wrong to result in this action and more. Academic misconduct, drug infractions, extra benefits for athletes, and more - all the ingredients of a really good and corrupt party.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill got a lot of unwanted attention relating to academic fraud in its football program. Not to be sold short, the basketball team is involved in a similar scandal that's ongoing now, with allegations of seemingly entire academic departments cooperating to ace players through classes against NCAA guidelines and regulations. It's still shaking out now, but suspensions and who knows what else could be in the near future for the people involved.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Academic Fraud
"The University of Miami? Involved in a scandal??" I know, I know, it's crazy. But in 2011 the story broke that various members of the school's athletic programs (including the basketball team) received improper benefits for play. The fallout from the scandal can still be felt by players, coaches, and other participants, to this day.
University of Miami Improper Benefits
When you're talking about sports scandals, there are a few words that have a tendency to jump out at you in between all the usual stuff like gambling, drug use, bribery, and the like. Words like "murder," for instance, which was the catalyst for an investigation into the Blue Velvet like underbelly of Baylor University after the killing of basketball player Patrick Dennehy led to revelations of misconduct directly related to the investigation and otherwise. It's a story too involved to sum up here, but head coach Dave Bliss resigned after he (among other things) was found to have told Baylor athletes to lie to investigators about Dennehy's (fabricated) drug habit.