Scandals in NCAA History

The NCAA Men’s College system has been the subject of great surprises, especially the famous March Madness tournament that is soon to be among us. However, these surprises can be categorized in many different ways; rather than be in record-breaking games or controversy. Here are some of the biggest scandals in NCAA history.


The Baylor University Scandal

In The early 2000’s, Baylor University was investigated for numerous NCAA violations that began after the scandal of the 2003 murder of player Patrick Dennehy. Patrick Dennehy was a junior basketball player for The Baylor University Bears. In the summer of 2003, Patrick Dennehy and teammate Carlton Dotson expressed concerns about their safety and purchased firearms as a result of this. After a party was held in which the two players didn’t show, and parents of Dennehy didn’t hear from him in days, families and players became suspicious. In late June, Dennehy’s car was found in Virginia with plates missing as an investigation ensued. The investigation continued and later led to a guilty plea by Carlton Dotson. This investigation, however, opened an entire can of worms for the Baylor University Men’s basketball team.

It was then discovered that the head coach, Dave Bliss, had illegally paid the tuition of two players, Patrick Dennehy and Corey Herring.

Dave Bliss later tried to cover this fact by alleging that player Patrick Dennehy paid his tuition by selling drugs, which was untrue. All of this was captured on microcassette by assistant coach Abir Rouse. The internal investigation by Baylor University that was done of the course of seven to eight months found, even more, penalties and the final report concluded with the findings of:

  • Bliss paying for tuition for two players, Dennehy and Herring, and attempting to conceal it.
  • Coaching staff providing meals, transportation, lodging and clothing to athletes.
  • Coaching staff paying for tuition and fees for a recruit at another school.
  • Bliss’s encouragement of school boosters to donate to a foundation tied to a basketball team that included prospective Baylor recruits.
  • Failure to report positive drug test results by athletes.
  • Failure by the entire coaching staff to “exercise institutional control over the basketball program.”

As a result, the NCAA imposed the following penalties

  • An extension of the university’s probation until June 22, 2010.
  • Barring of Baylor from playing any nonconference games for the 2005-06 season
  • The reducing of Baylor’s paid recruiting visits from twelve to nine for the 2006-07 season
  • A ten-year “show-cause penalty” on Dave Bliss

And additional smaller penalties.


SMU Scandal

Better Known as Ponygate

In late 1986, it was revealed that SMU had been brought under fire for numerous allegations and NCAA violations. These allegations included a top secret “slush fund” that was used to pay players and even bribe them to join the SMU football program. An investigation was launched and the allegations were proven to be true. Because of this fact, the NCAA handed down some of their biggest penalties yet, including “the death penalty.”

In 1976 SMU hired up-and-coming football coach Ron Meyer to lead their football athletics program. To revamp and excite SMU’s athletics department, Ron Meyer set out onto an aggressive and extensive recruiting “campaign.” This campaign included going for the biggest and brightest players throughout Texas.

His recruiting staff began paying recruits, without Meyer stepping in to stop these payments. Furthermore, a “slush fund” was developed to pay players and recruits under the table.

Eventually, the NCAA investigation revealed that in 1985 and 1986, thirteen players had been paid a total of $61,000 from a slush fund provided by a booster. Payments ranged from $50 to $725 per month (which is over $1,500 today in 2017). This news was extremely bad for SMU as if was found that the payments had started only a month after SMU had been handed its latest probation by the NCAA.

On February 25, the NCAA committee voted unanimously to cancel SMU’s entire 1987 football season and also all four of SMU’s 1988 home games. The total list of penalties includes:

  • The canceling of their 1987 football season
  • The canceling of all 1988 scheduled home games. SMU was only allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected.
  • The extension of the team’s existing probation until 1990, and extension of ban from live television and bowl games until 1989.
  • The loss of 55 new scholarship positions over the next four years.
  • The loss of ability to participate in off-campus recruiting until August 1988 and no paid visits could be made to campus by potential recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

This scandal hobbled the SMU football program, taking SMU years to work themselves back up to winning potential. It is still known as one of the biggest penalties ever handed down by the NCAA.


The Penn State Scandal

If we’re bringing up the topic of NCAA scandals, we must bring up this one.

In early November 2011, scandal broke that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach for the Penn State, was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation. In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a non-profit organization that was intended to provide relief to at-risk, and underprivileged youth. Through this program, Sandusky was able to meet and interact with all 52 of his alleged victims.On June 22, 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 45 of these counts and later sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison. This verdict was met with larger uproar for Penn State because of some counts allegedly taking place on Penn State grounds, and well as with the knowledge of some Penn State staff.

In the summer of 2012, the NCAA passed down the following sanctions against Penn State:

  • A five-year probation
  • A four-year postseason ban.
  • A vacation of all wins from 1998 to 2011(112 wins in total) This stripped the Nittany Lions of two of their shared Big Ten titles (2005,2008). It also removed 111 wins from Head Coach Joe Paterno’s record, dropping him from first to 12th on the NCAA’s all-time wins list.
  • A $60 million fine, the proceeds of which were to go toward an endowment for preventing child abuse.
  • Loss of a total of 40 initial scholarships from 2013 to 2017. During the same period, Penn State limited to 65 total scholarships.

These sanctions were by far the strongest the NCAA has ever passed down. Though NCAA sports have been met with a deal of scandals, they never fail to lay the hammer down as hard as necessary.

7th March 2017