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College Basketball: The 25 Sketchiest Programs in Hoops History

Luke DykesCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

College Basketball: The 25 Sketchiest Programs in Hoops History

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    Throughout the history of college hoops, there have been certain events transpire that left some schools' images a little tarnished.

    This damage could have been the result of a certain coach entirely, or there may be repeated violations that gave the school a bit of a reputation.

    Regardless, the following 25 schools had some trials and tribulations that left a bad taste in the mouths of fans across the country.

25. Villanova Wildcats

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    The only real violation for the Wildcats came in 1971, after a season that had seen them reach the championship game.

    Led by Howard Porter, the Wildcats advanced through the tournament, but couldn't beat UCLA during their stint as the best team in the nation. Porter was still named tournament MOP.

    After the season, however, it was discovered that Porter had signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Condors of the ABA halfway through his senior season.

    Villanova had to vacate all of its awards and wins from the season and Porter was stripped as MOP.

24. St. John's Red Storm

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    The Red Storm used to be a serious threat to Big East opponents, but ever since the justified firing of Mike Jarvis in late 2004, the Red Storm have played more like a mild rain shower (until this season at least).

    Jarvis was a good coach for the New York school, but it was revealed that the athletic department had been giving player Abe Keita nearly $300 every month for the four years during which he was a player.

    After Jarvis was fired, more events surfaced that gave the school even less credibility: a guard was caught with drugs in Queens and a transfer student was charged with assault on a woman.

    The events that surfaced around the beginning of 2005 caused St. John's to implement two years of probation on itself and it returned 90 percent of its revenue due to the NCAA tournament that they played in while Keita was a student.

23. Tennessee Volunteers

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    Tennessee's recent seasons under Bruce Pearl have been suspicious at best. Pearl was recently suspended for the first eight games of SEC conference play due to "inappropriate conduct" during recruiting and deliberately giving misleading information to the NCAA during an investigation.

    Pearl personally lost $1.5 million for the offense and Tennessee lost the majority of its privileges to recruit off-campus for the next few years.

    Last season, the men's basketball team faced adversity in the form of losing multiple players after four were arrested and charged with felony gun and drug charges last season.

    While this isn't quite the school's fault, it still happened under their watch and it seems suspicious that all of these things happened to occur since Bruce Pearl became coach in Knoxville. 

22. St. Bonaventure Bonnies

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    St. Bonaventure has never been a mainstay on the hoops scene, but in the 2002-03 season, the Bonnies let junior college transfer Jamil Terrell into the university with only a welding certificate to his name.

    Terrell proceeded to play for the basketball team even though the athletic department was fully aware of the condition of his acceptance to the university.

    They didn't contact the NCAA until late in the season and they had to forfeit all games that Terrell played in, as well as being banned from the 2003 Atlantic-10 tournament.

    Even though he was initially terminated due to the controversy, head coach Jan Van Breda Kolff (pictured) denied knowing about the scandal and was eventually cleared of wrongdoing.

    This isn't the worst situation to hit a university by far, but it may certainly be the dumbest.

21. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Much of the tarnished reputation of the Buckeyes is due to the way that former head coach Jim O'Brien (pictured) left the university.

    O'Brien was promptly fired in 2004 when he admitted to athletic director Andy Geiger that he had given more than $6,000 in a loan to the mother of recruit Aleksander Radojevic after he signed a letter of intent.

    O'Brien sued the university afterwards, claiming that he was unjustly fired and that his loan didn't violate any NCAA rules, which was later upheld by an NCAA infractions official.

    He was awarded $2.4 million in reparations due to Ohio State's breach of contract. However, in the process of bringing up these charges, more were discovered.

    Two boosters had paid a nanny, Kathleen Salyers, more than $1,000 a month to take care of player Boban Savovic, who couldn't live with the boosters because he would be receiving improper benefits.

    Although the NCAA didn't punish Ohio State for the O'Brien loan, it put Ohio State on three years worth of probation and forced them to vacate all of their wins from 1999 to 2002, including a Final Four appearance. 

20. Massachusetts Minutemen

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    The beginning of an illustrious career of suspicious circumstances, John Calipari's first college coaching job ended in a spot of controversy (surprised?).

    After leading UMass to five straight A-10 titles and a Final Four appearance, it was discovered that center Marcus Camby (pictured) had accepted over $28,000 from an agent while still playing at Massachusetts. 

    While this isn't necessarily Calipari's fault, much like later in his career, he bolted before any of the scandal could touch him, accepting a job with the New Jersey Nets.

    Calipari's jump to the NBA left Massachusetts reeling and the team hasn't ever been as good since he left.

    Having this go on under his watch was just the beginning for Coach Cal (as we'll see later) and tarnished the name of the Minutemen instead of his own. 

19. New Mexico State Aggies

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    The main cause of suspicion around the Aggies is due to violations by former head coach Neil McCarthy. McCarthy proved to be at the center of two specific academic scandals while at NMSU.

    First, it was discovered that six of the Aggies players had received assistance from an assistant coach on work in their correspondence courses.

    While not specifically his fault, McCarthy was criticized for not handling the situation properly and the NCAA gave him a two year "show-cause" order, requiring other schools to get approval from the NCAA to hire him. 

    After being dismissed as head coach, McCarthy sued the university for wrongful termination and while under oath, it was revealed that he had also hired an assistant coach in return for the commitment of two recruits.

    The assistant coach, Fletcher Cockrell, was given a 10-year "show-cause" and New Mexico State was put on probation for six years and forced to vacate two years worth of wins.

18. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Kelvin Sampson wrecked the reputation of a respected program. His recruitment of star guard Eric Gordon came under scrutiny from both coaches and NCAA officials.

    His recruitment was viewed as unethical by some and it was discovered that he had made over 550 illegal phone calls to 17 different recruits.

    Sampson lost privileges to recruit off-campus for one year, however this didn't stop him. Despite the sanctions against him, Sampson made at least 10 conference calls with recruits during the year that he wasn't supposed to. Sampson became the target of both NCAA and internal university investigations.

    It was released that, along with his staff, Sampson had committed five major violations and had knowingly lied to officials regarding his illegal phone calls.

    The University of Indiana decided that his coaching status would be decided on a game-by-game basis. Sampson eventually resigned from his post as head coach, but Indiana was slapped with a three-year probation.

17. Missouri Tigers

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    Missouri's coach with the most wins all-time, Norm Stewart, brought not only wins, but sanctions as well.

    After leading the Tigers to five straight tournaments from 1986-1990, it was discovered that Stewart had violated multiple major rules regarding academic irregularities, recruiting practices and athlete benefits.

    The NCAA put limits on the number of scholarships Missouri had, as well as imposing limitations on recruiting practices. Two of the assistants for the Tigers were also forced to resign.

    The Tigers also have had controversy more recently, regarding the dismissal of former coach Quin Snyder (pictured). Although Snyder actually resigned, it was revealed that he wouldn't have been retained anyway.

    Athletic director Mike Alden also came under scrutiny for his handling of the situation, apparently telling Snyder about his future through Tigers sports analyst Gary Link.

16. California Golden Bears

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    Cal's place on this list is entirely due to former head coach Todd Bozeman. During his tenure as coach at Cal, Bozeman managed to get sanctions for the university, become the defendant of a sexual harassment charge from a student and effectively blackball himself from the college ranks for almost 10 years. 

    Bozeman gave the parents of player Jelani Gardner over $30,000 in order to drive to see their son play. When Gardner's playing time began to slip, the parents turned Bozeman over to the NCAA.

    Cal was forced to vacate all of its wins except two from 1994-1996 and its tournament appearance in 1996.

    Bozeman also got an eight-year "show-cause" order, and given the procedures to hire a coach who has one, basically got an order to not coach for eight years.

15. USC Trojans

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    USC is on this list due to the incident regarding recruit O.J. Mayo.

    Former head coach Tim Floyd gave Rodney Guillory, a Los Angeles events promoter, money to help sway Mayo to attend USC for his collegiate career. Mayo was also found to have received bunches of improper benefits while attending the university.

    In early 2010, after learning of the violations, USC vacated all of its wins during 2007-2008 season, during which Mayo would have been ineligible, and placed themselves on probation for the 2010 postseason. 

14. Memphis Tigers

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    Another example of Calipari's winning style is present with his time as Memphis Tigers head coach, although many of the violations in Memphis's history weren't his fault.

    In the time of Dana Kirk, Memphis (known as Memphis State) became a national powerhouse. Kirk led the Tigers to five straight seasons with eight losses or less, but at a price.

    Kirk only graduated six players in his seven years as a head coach. It was also discovered that under Kirk, Memphis had committed plenty of NCAA violations, which led to the vacating of their 1985 Final Four appearance and a ban from the 1987 tournament.

    Plus, Kirk was forced out after it had been revealed he had committed several felonies.

    Twenty years later, under John Calipari, Memphis once again had to vacate the entire season of their Final Four appearance in 2008.

    All-American Derrick Rose (pictured) had apparently cheated on his SATs and his brother had received improper benefits in the form of paid transportation by the university.

    Once again, though, Calipari was long gone by the time the news broke, having taken a job at Kentucky. 

13. Georgia Bulldogs

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    During the 2002-2003 season, it was discovered that the Georgia Bulldogs had circumvented the normal standards for player academics and had committed serious NCAA violations while doing so.

    Head coach Jim Harrick's son, Jim Harrick Jr., had given three players from the team an "A" in a basketball strategy class which they had never attended.

    Harrick Jr. had also given one of the players, Tony Cole, $300, breaking the rules for improper benefits for students.

    He had also told two of the players to lie to the NCAA, which along with these charges, exacted a seven-year "show-cause" order from the NCAA.

    It was later discovered during an investigation that Georgia had paid $1,500 worth of long-distance phone calls made by players a year-and-a-half earlier.

    Georgia was given four years probation and forced to vacate 30 wins from two seasons. Harrick Sr. was suspended on March 10, 2003 and then resigned 17 days later. 

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Minnesota's major scandal was due to academic fraud.

    The day before the 1999 NCAA tournament began, the manager of the academic counseling office at the University of Minnesota testified that she had written over 400 pieces of coursework for players on the basketball team over a course of five years.

    It was later revealed that head coach Clem Haskins (pictured) had paid the manager $3,000 to do the work. It was also later revealed that Haskins had told some of his players to lie to the NCAA as well. 

    The Gophers suspended four players for the 1999 tournament (they lost in the first round). After the season, Haskins was fired and given a seven-year "show-cause" order. The Gophers were placed on probation for four years.

    Eventually they were stripped of all of their postseason accomplishments for six years and were forced to vacate all of their games from the 1993-94 to 1998-99 seasons.

11. Iowa State Cyclones

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    Iowa State earned its spot as a sketchy school due to the behavior of former head coach Larry Eustachy. Unlike other teams on the list, Eustachy and the Cyclones didn't commit any NCAA violations, but instead acted really unprofessionally. 

    Eustachy was seen (and pictured) at a University of Missouri party hours after his Cyclones had lost to the Tigers. He was seen kissing multiple girls and propositioned some as well.

    He was so inebriated that someone needed to call a cab for him. Eustachy had also been seen at a Kansas State frat party after a game against the Wildcats as well.

    About three months after the story broke in both the Des Moines Register and Mizzou's school newspaper, Eustachy was suspended. Although initially he said he was going to contest the suspension, he resigned from his post a week later.

10. St. Joseph's Hawks

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    In 1961, the Hawks were forced to vacate their Final Four appearance. Three of the players that led the team were found to be involved in a point-shaving scandal throughout the season.

    It was the best season that St. Joe's had ever had, but all their wins were vacated.

9. UNLV Rebels

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    Under coach Jerry Tarkanian, aka "Tark the Shark," UNLV became one of the most questionable basketball programs in the country. Although Tarkanian was a great coach and made the Rebels a great program, he did so by what seems like questionable means. 

    He had already been in trouble and had wins vacated at his previous job, coaching Long Beach State, but he got off to a bad start in Las Vegas as well.

    In 1976, the NCAA put UNLV on two years probation for what was stated "questionable practices." Although the violations went back to a time before Tarkanian was coach, the sanctions still hit him hard. 

    Later in Tarkanian's career, things really started to blow up for UNLV. In 1987, star recruit Lloyd Daniels was caught buying crack cocaine from an undercover policeman.

    It was discovered that Daniels was led to UNLV by notorious sports gambler Richard Perry, who also was rumored to have ties with the mob.

    Four years later, three players from the 1991 championship team were pictured in a newspaper in a hot tub with Perry.

    The picture was taken in 1989, linking the Rebels once again to gambling and the mafia, although nothing was ever proven. After the picture was released, the athletic director made Tarkanian resign after their title-defending season.

    "Tark the Shark" was a great coach, but his involvement with shady characters managed to overshadow his success. 

8. Tulane Green Wave

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    In 1985, Tulane became one of the few schools that had the unthinkable happen to them. Four players from the Tulane team were accused of shaving points during their games in exchange for money and cocaine.

    Two players, Clyde Eads and Jon Johnson, were granted immunity in order to testify against star forward "Hot Rod" Williams (pictured).

    After Williams was indicted, the entire coaching staff and athletic director resigned and school president Eamon Kelly promptly abolished the basketball program.

    The program was gone for three years until the team was brought back.

    Williams was never convicted of anything and played in the NBA for nine seasons.

7. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Northwestern was the last school to get caught for point-shaving in the 20th century. Two players, Dion Lee (pictured) and Dewey Williams, were involved in the scheme to pay back a bookie.

    This scheme was different, though; instead of trying to beat the spread, Williams and Lee worked to lose by more than the spread. 

    The scandal was sickening to the Northwestern higher-ups. Athletic director Rick Taylor said that point-shaving "purely and simply is betrayal...betrayal of self, teammate, family, coaches, university and the very game itself."

    Much to his dismay, Northwestern was also caught in a football point-shaving scandal the same year.

6. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    The 1994 Arizona State team was devastated by a prime example of the snowball effect.

    Captain Stevin Smith (pictured) started the two-man operation to pay off a gambling debt with a local bookie, but eventually it spread to another teammate, Isaac Burton. Eventually, the games got ridiculous.

    The mob was financing the fix and the word spread like wildfire. In a game against Washington, over $1 million in bets were placed.

    Normally, a game like this would only draw about $50,000. The point spread moved from ASU minus-15 to just minus-3, a sign to many that the fix was on.

    Washington would end up winning by 18, plenty to cover the spread, and most everyone would lose their money.

    Later Smith would confess to sports bribery charges and spend almost a year in jail. Burton was only in on two of the fixed games and only spent two months in jail.

    Federal law enforcement officials determined more money was wagered on those fixed games than any other point-shaving scandal in the history of college sports.

5. City College Of New York Beavers

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    The 1950 CCNY team became the first team to ever win the NIT and NCAA tournament in the same year.

    However, a year later, seven players from the team (and some from Bradley, the team that lost in the championship game) were accused of point-shaving by New York City DA Frank Hogan. 

    As the scandal expanded, more and more teams and players were involved. Eventually, 86 games were found to be fixed and 32 players were involved from 1947 to 1950.

    The scandal tore New York City apart and took some of the historically great basketball programs (including the Beavers) out of the Division-I level forever.

4. Boston College Eagles

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    In 1979, the Boston College Eagles were influenced by an outside force that started a point-shaving scandal in Boston.

    Henry Hill (pictured), notorious mobster and an inspiration for the movie Goodfellas, and Richard "The Fixer" Perry were involved with Boston College players to fix as as many as nine games. 

    They would pay the Eagles to shave points, but weren't always successful.

    In a 2007 USA Today article, Perry said that he sent a message to the players along the lines of: "Tell those Boston kids they can't play basketball with broken arms."

    Three Boston College players were implicated, but only Rick Kuhn was actually charged and convicted.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

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    The Kentucky Wildcats have a rap sheet almost as prolific as their successes. Historically, the team has had teams that have proven to be somewhat shady.

    It all started under Adolph Rupp (pictured). In 1949, Kentucky was the most feared team in the nation and went on to win the NCAA championship.

    However, they had two suspicious losses, one to Saint Louis and one to Loyola. Later, three players including two All-Americans (Alex Groza and Ralph Beard) admitted to throwing the Loyola game. They were subsequently banned from the pro league forever.

    Two years later, in 1951, center Bill Spivey was accused of shaving points, right after coach Rupp said: "Gamblers couldn't touch my boys with a 10-foot pole."

    Spivey claimed innocence before a grand jury and was charged with lying under oath. He didn't get convicted, but the NBA prohibited Spivey from ever playing. Sportswriters soon sent Rupp an 11-foot pole after the scandal broke.

    After two scandals in three years, Kentucky became the first team to get the "death penalty" and were banned from play during the entire 1952-53 season.

    Many years later, in 1989, head coach Eddie Sutton was implicated in another scandal regarding the paying of recruits. His assistant coach had sent $1,000 to the father of freshman Chris Mills and Kentucky was already under probation.

    The NCAA considered another "death penalty" ruling, but instead Eddie Sutton and athletic director Cliff Sutton were forced to resign and the Wildcats got three years of probation and a two-year ban on postseason play.

    There haven't been any other sanctions on Kentucky since then, but the hiring of John Calipari has me sitting on the edge of my seat.

    With his record, it may not be long before something happens in Lexington. Technically, none of the things he's done in the past have been his fault, but lots of things have gone on under his watch, so it wouldn't surprise me if something else did.

2. Michigan Wolverines

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    The fabled Fab Five was one of the greatest recruiting classes to ever enter college basketball and they played like gods amongst men in college basketball. However, in the late 1990's, a scandal the size of which had never been seen before in college basketball began to evolve.

    It was discovered that a booster named Ed Martin had given over $600,000 to four different players on the Michigan team including star forward Chris Webber (pictured) in an attempt to launder money from an illegal gambling operation.

    The result involved indictments of both Martin and Webber to testify before a grand jury and a wave of vacated games for the Wolverines. 

    The Wolverines had to vacate all of their wins from 1993 and 1996-1999 and were stripped of all their postseason accomplishments, including a runner-up performance against UNC in the 1993 Final Four.

    The Wolverines were put on probation for four years and had to dissociate themselves from the four players involved until 2012. The players were removed from the record books in Ann Arbor. They also had to return over $450,000 made from postseason play in the aforementioned seasons.

    The Michigan Scandal has been described as "one of the three or four most egregious violations of NCAA bylaws" and will go down in infamy as a shame to the great game of college basketball. 

1. Baylor Bears

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    In 2003, fellow teammate Carlton Dodson murdered Patrick Dennehy (pictured). Dennehy had been missing for about a week before Dotson was taken into custody in Maryland.

    After the investigation into Dotson had begun, allegations emerged that there had been multiple violations in the Baylor basketball program. Out of scholarships, head coach Dave Bliss had paid for Dennehy's tuition out of pocket as well as another teammate's.

    While under investigation, Bliss publicly portrayed Dennehy as a drug dealer to explain how he was paying his tuition while not on scholarship. Bliss also pretended to be the father of the other teammate (Cory Herring). 

    More allegations came from a mother of a teammate, saying that widespread drug use was commonly ignored by Bliss and the coaching staff. Players also revealed that Bliss and other coaches had been present during a pick-up game with a recruit, violating NCAA policy. 

    The blitzkrieg on Bliss caused him to resign on Aug. 8, after confessing to making payments totaling $7,000 towards Herring and Dennehy's tuition. He was also caught on tape telling his coaching staff to lie about Dennehy to make him seem like a drug dealer. Bliss was caught lying to investigators as well.

    After the investigation was completed, Bliss was given a 10-year "show-cause" order due to "despicable behavior" and "unethical conduct."

    The fact that this unacceptable behavior was discovered by something as tragic as the murder of a young college student is sad, but at least it was able to speed up the process of getting rid of a corrupt system and help Baylor move on to a better future.

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