When NBA star Bob Lanier attended the St Bonaventure (1967-1970), the Bonnies made it to the NCAA tournament twice, including the 1970 Final Four.
Most recently in 2012, riding the talents of Andrew Nicholson, they made another NCAA appearance.
But, in 2002, Jan Van Breda Kolff, the head coach at the time, was trying to move the program ahead.
He recruited a junior college transfer named Jamil Terrell. Instead of having the mandatory associate’s degree, Terrell only held a welder’s certificate, making him ineligible to play.
However, the story just begins here.
Terrell, through a sequence of back-room dealings, was allowed to play in the 2002-03 season. The cover-up not only involved the basketball program, but also the school’s athletic director, Gothard Lane, and the school’s president, Robert Wickenheiser.
The following details of the story were outlined in USA Today’s St. Bonaventure Scandal Timeline:
During the season, Lane intervened on Terrell’s behalf with the school’s vice president of academic affairs in order to keep him eligible.
At this time the board of trustees investigated Terrell’s eligibility. After the NCAA determined that he did not meet eligibility standards, the school declared him ineligible.
The team decided to not play its final two regular season games.
But USA Today’s Jill Lieber described what turned this story from troubling to tragic. The school’s chairman of the board of trustees, Bill Swan, out of embarrassment for his role in the scandal, took his own life.
Sports disgraces are sad, but people committing suicide over them is devastating.