10 Most Loathsome Scourges in College Sports History

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2011

10 Most Loathsome Scourges in College Sports History

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    This summer, Nevin Shapiro shocked the sports world when facts came to surface about the benefits he provided to the University of Miami football team.

    It has been said Shapiro provided improper benefits to players over the course of a decade. He used his money and influence to get recruits to play for the Hurricanes and the team is finally facing the consequences.

    As bad as the allegations were, it was not the first scandal to come to college sports. The old adage was that amateur players represented a pure form of the game, before the players were corrupted by high salaries and endorsement deals.

    Unfortunately, there have been enough bad apples to show that anyone surrounding college football or college basketball is capable of breaking both NCAA rules and even some laws.

    Due to their actions, these men cause immense hatred among the world of college sports. They set their sports back in terms of public perception for years and they deserve no redemption.

    These are the people behind the biggest scandals in the history of college sports.

10. Jim Tressel

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    Jim Tressel started his head coaching career at Youngstown State, an FCS school that he led to multiple national championships at what was known as the 1-AA level. Unfortunately, scandal did not evade Tressel even without the media spotlight.

    The starting quarterback on his first national championship team admitted to accepting improper benefits from a booster. Although Tressel was not accused of any wrongdoing, the fact it happened under his watch was a bad sign of things to come.

    His success on the field led him to being hired as the head coach of Ohio State in 2001. Despite continuing his winning ways, Tressel was forced to resign after an NCAA investigation involving several notable players on his team.

    Some Buckeye players were getting free tattoos as well as selling some of their memorabilia, including jerseys, rings and jackets. Once again, Tressel's lack of policing over the situation is what caused his decline.

    While he was not the mastermind of the scandal, a head coach should always be aware of what his players are up to, and this is why he no longer works for the proud Ohio State institution. 

9. John Calipari

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    Unlike many others on this list, John Calipari has not faced any real punishments for his actions. He is still employed by the University of Kentucky, but he left his previous teams with the majority of the punishments.

    In 1996, UMass star Marcus Camby led his team to a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, Camby was proven to have received improper benefits from an agent and the entire season was vacated from the record books.

    In 2008, Derrick Rose led Calipari's Memphis Tigers to the Final Four, where the team eventually lost in the finals to Kansas. Once again, the season had to be vacated due to Rose's ineligibility. It was discovered that Rose never legally got his minimum score on his SAT, and therefore was not allowed to play NCAA basketball.

    In each of these cases, John Calipari left the school before the major violations were handed down.

    Last March, Calipari lead the Kentucky Wildcats to his first official Final Four appearance. That is, unless it gets taken away.

8. Pete Carroll

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    Pete Carroll is a coach who was able to leave the program before the punishments were handed down.

    After 10 years with the USC Trojans, Carroll left to be head coach of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. Shortly after, the NCAA made rulings that removed a portion of USC's wins during the most successful run of Carroll's tenure.

    The controversy was centered around illegal benefits to star running back Reggie Bush. His Heisman Trophy was vacated, along with the national championship that USC won during his time there.

    In addition, USC was put on probation and is not eligible for the postseason for two seasons.

    Although Carroll did not receive any direct penalties, it would be tough to imagine he did not know what was happening with his team.

7. Jim Harrick, Jr.

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    It is often believed that football and basketball players receive superior treatment when it comes to class grades. With eligibility rules, players cannot afford to fail academically or they would not be able to play the sport that got them to college in the first place.

    In 2003, Jim Harrick, Jr. was his father's assistant for the Georgia Bulldogs. He also "taught" a class called "Coaching Methods for Basketball," which included many players on the team.

    So, what's the problem?

    It turned out the class was not as educational as they made it out to be. Several players received an A despite never showing up to class. Those who did come to class were forced to take a final exam that anyone who has watched a single basketball game should be able to answer.

    The test included the question "How many halves are in a basketball game?"

    It was multiple choice.

    Both Jim Harrick, Jr. and Jim Harrick, Sr. were forced resign that season due to the scandal. The NCAA now takes a much closer look at academic merit among its student-athletes.

6. Ed Martin

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    In the 1990s, there were few basketball teams more exciting than the Michigan Wolverines. Unfortunately, in hindsight it seems these players were not getting to Ann Arbor by themselves.

    Ed Martin, a booster for the basketball team, was found guilty of providing thousands of dollars to high school players in exchange for coming to the University of Michigan. Martin made an investment on each of these players and believed he would get the money back after they turned professional.

    At least four players admitted to taking money from Martin, including Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock and most notably Chris Webber.

    The leader of the Fab Five team that reached the championship game participated in many recruiting violations and eventually caused the school to land on probation for a few seasons. This was all after they removed numerous wins from the record book.

    Who would have thought that a technical foul at the end of a championship game would not be the worst thing Webber did to Michigan?

5. Myron Piggie

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    Although many believe that coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils are without scandal, it is important to note that they were also part of some not-so-clean activity.

    Myron Piggie, a former AAU coach, paid his former player Corey Maggette $35,000 while he was a member of the Duke basketball team. Piggie pleaded guilty to conspiracy after both sides admitted to the transaction.

    Maggette lead Duke to a Final Four appearance in 1999, yet the victories were never vacated despite the controversy. He then left to play in the NBA and never saw any penalties for the infractions.

    Piggie, on the other hand, was forced to serve five years in prison.

4. Ed Warner

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    There were scandals before there was ESPN.

    One of the biggest controversies in college basketball history involves a point-shaving scandal that took place in 1951.

    CCNY was the first and only team to win both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in the same season. It called Madison Square Garden home and used its home-court advantage to upset the highly ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

    Unfortunately, seven players on the team were arrested for taking bribes from organized crime leaders in New York City. They were found to be shaving points off of games to help the gamblers. All-American Ed Warner was sentenced to six months in prison.

    The scandal pretty much destroyed CCNY as a basketball program and it was never able to play in Madison Square Garden again. Afraid of more problems, the NCAA tournament has rarely been in the New York area since.

3. Sherwood Blount, Jr.

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    Although not a household name, Sherwood Blount, Jr. was one of the biggest contributors to the scandal that brought down the SMU football team.

    Blount was a former player who became a wealthy real-estate developer in Dallas. He, among others, created a slush fund that helped pay players a monthly stipend. This was the latest in a long list of violations for the Mustangs.

    In 1987, the NCAA decided to make an example out of SMU. It received the "death penalty," meaning it was not able to play football for an entire year.

    Since all players were given a full release, most of the team transferred elsewhere in order to continue playing football. The program is just now starting to recover from the effects.

    Blount was one of many that contributed to the decline of the SMU athletic program, and it should serve as a warning to all teams that are thinking of breaking the rules.

2. Dave Bliss

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    Some coaching scandals are due to improper benefits or some money changing hands. In 2003, Dave Bliss blew all other scandals out of the water.

    Former Baylor player Carlton Dotson was convicted of murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy, but somehow that was only the tip of the iceberg.

    Bliss was then accused of covering up the scandal by instructing his players on what to say. He was caught on tape telling players to tell the police that Dennehy was dealing drugs. Bliss wanted to cover the fact that he was illegally paying for some of Dennehy's tuition.

    Baylor was forced to go on probation and Bliss was forced to resign. The scandal that occurred in 2003 remains as one of the worst things ever to happen to college basketball.

1. Nevin Shapiro

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    Credit: blacksportsonline.com

    While he is now spending time in prison after being convicted of participating in a Ponzi scheme, Nevin Shapiro allegedly spent the past decade providing improper benefits to the University of Miami football team.

    Shapiro reportedly paid thousands of dollars to get recruits to play for the Hurricanes, and when asked about he seemed to feel no remorse. Said Shapiro to Yahoo! Sports:

    Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami. With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me.

    Beside providing benefits including entry to strip clubs and parties on his yacht, Shapiro also provided cars, and in one case he paid for an abortion.

    It is one thing to help a poor, inner-city youth to help provide for his family. It is quite another to provide teenagers with all of the vices in America.

    Shapiro will remain as one of the worst people ever to grace the college football scene.


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