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Heck Pup
06-12-2010, 10:25 AM
Pretty good blog post. Feel free to add your own suggestions. I'll add Danny Ford at Clemson.

The college football world is buzzing about the NCAA’s sanctions against USC that will keep the Trojans out of the next two bowl seasons. But in the history of college football, where exactly does the Reggie Bush saga rank in the biggest program scandals of all time? We have the Top 10 that would make Wall Street executives blush.

Editor’s Note: These are program scandals, hence the Mike Price strip club and George O’Leary resume scandals are not included.

10. Eric Ramsey’s Dirty Tapes Topple Auburn in ‘93

In September of 1991, former Auburn player Eric Ramsey dropped a bombshell on the sports world by alleging he was given money by an illegal booster and even some coaches. Oh, and he claimed he had audio evidence. From there the story took off. There were illegal car payments, steak dinners and a loan over $9,000 secured with the help of AD and head coach Pat Dye.

Auburn fans were not interested in what Ramsey had to say. When he and his girlfriend graduated that year, both had to wear bullet proof vest and deal with the chorus of boos cascading their way. And the tapes? Both sides argued over their authenticity, going so far as to hire a professional audio tape specialist to authenticate the recording (they were real). Most of the violations revolved around players receiving money, either to help with certain finances or for play on the field. In the end Auburn got hit hard. They were put on a two-year bowl ban, a one year TV ban and lost 14 scholarships over a four year period. Pat Dye, a hero to Auburn fans, resigned.

9. USC’s Reggie Bush Saga

We all know the details of this case. According to the report, Bush and his family received illegal payments from two wanna-be agents who were dying to sign the future super star. Their tab? $300,000. The gifts included hotel stays, a rent-free home for Bush’s family and a new suit and limousine for his Heisman ceremony. Things got so nasty Suge Knight even reportedly got involved (let’s just be glad this didn’t end with Bush being dangled over a balcony). That might’ve cost his wanna-be agents a lot of money but those actions will cost USC a lot more.

As a result of the violations, USC also gets a two-year bowl ban and loses a whopping 30 scholarships over a three-year period. The school is planning on appealing some of the charges. Bush has already come out and publicly stated he’s disappointed with the decision. Pete Carroll did him one better and posted a video blog. He’s so 21st-century.

Despite the mind-boggling amount of money involved, it isn’t rated higher on this list because these were prospective agents instead of boosters.

8. Kert Kaspar Turns Oklahoma In

Throughout the entire ’88 season, no one was aware that an oft-used senior linebacker getting the most playing time he’d ever received was responsible for the NCAA sanctions placed on Oklahoma that offseason. Kert Kasper was granted immunity by the NCAA in exchange for his testimony for the major violation he committed as a Sooner. Kasper admitted that OU booster Bill Lambert had not only loaned him a car but paid him $400 a week for work he never did. It was just one of 18 rules violations found by the NCAA in its investigations.

The other juicy details from the investigation: the Mafioso type racket perpetuated by the coaching staff, scalped student football tickets, $1,000 in cash (in an envelope, of course) given to one athlete, slush funds, padded salaries, airline tickets, rental cars and free or discounted clothing and shoes. Apparently Don Corleone was the head coach at Oklahoma. Barry Switzer’s comments were classic: “Some we have to address because they did happen,” he said. “None of them ever gave Oklahoma a competitive advantage.” Um, yeah. The NCAA disagreed. In the end Oklahoma was banned from bowl play for two years, banned from live television games for one season and had limits placed on on-campus recruiting. And Barry Switzer resigned.

7. Hart Lee Dykes Coughs Up Details On Okie State

Not to be outdone by its in-state rival, the Cowboys were also slammed by the NCAA in 1989 thanks to the testimony of their own player. Hart Lee Dykes became the NCAA’s key witness, not just against Oklahoma State, but three other schools. Apparently the $1,000 OU paid a player was chump change compared to what the Cowboys needed to get Dykes. Said Ron Watson, the OU’s assistant athletic director: “Looking at the time Hart Lee was recruited and the numbers that were out there publicly, what he was going to go for on the auction block, our coach wasn’t going to get involved with a $1,000 offer. That was chicken feed.”

He wasn’t joking. Dykes was given $5,000, delivered by OSU coach Willie Anderson. Oh and he was also loaned a car. Apparently talent doesn’t come cheap. The crazy thing about this is that the NCAA got lucky to even get Dykes’ testimony in the first place. They didn’t even have evidence on Dykes! They just offered him immunity to talk about what he knew. As one source at the time said, “It was a pretty lucky shot.”

The punishment included a 2-year TV ban and 3-year bowl ban that crushed the program for years.

6. Hobert’s $50,000 Price Tag

Thanks to an Idaho businessman (who knew Idaho had businessmen?), Washington Huskies QB Billy Joe Hobert received a whopping $50,000 in personal loans. That buys a lot of Ramen noodles. Hobert, who led the Huskies to the 1991 co-national title, became a lightning rod for fans’ anger after the NCAA punished Washington. So much so that when he returned to Seattle as a professional, he decided to leave his wife and baby at home in Los Angeles. “I’m not going to risk anything,” he said. “. . . I’m not really worried about it, but I also don’t want to be sorry about it later, so I’m taking every precaution to assure the safety of my family and myself.”

The most egregious violation may have been committed by booster Jim Heckman. He made improper recruiting advancements to three different Seattle-area recruits, trying to get them to renege on their commitments to others schools. None of them went to Washington. So we’re not sure if fans should’ve been insulted by the attempted tampering or by the fact he didn’t convince anyone to actually renege on their commitment. Washington was hit with a two-year bowl ban, one-year partial TV ban and a loss of 20 scholarships over two years. Head coach Don James – a.k.a. “The Dawgfather” – was so upset with the sanctions that he resigned in August 1993.

5. Charley Pell’s 107 Major Infractions

Former Florida coach Charley Pell should be almost admired when you consider how many major infractions his program committed. While most programs are being hammered for a measly 18 infractions, he was cited for 107! When did he have time to actually coach? Pell’s misdeeds don’t stray too far from the general narrative: slush funds, pay for no-show jobs, scalping athlete tickets, spying on opposing teams and free gifts like school t-shirts and souvenirs. Yawn. About that last violation: Pell attributed the gifts to recruits as a way to “make prospect feel part of university.” A legal way of doing that is offering a scholarship.

But the best part of the whole ordeal is that despite admitting to many of the violations he was accused of, Pell still felt he had some kind of honor. According to notes taken by an investigator interviewing Pell, “C.P. says going to hang onto that dignity.” That might have changed after he was fired by the school in 1984 despite asking to resign. The NCAA nailed Florida with a two-year ban on bowl games and live television and lost 20 scholarships, sending the program into the abyss for the rest of the 1980s.

4. Alabama’s Near-Death Experience

Alabama booster Logan Young can no doubt claim he really loved Alabama football. And by really love, we mean he was willing to drop six figures for the program. The NCAA claims Young, a Memphis native, tried to get Memphis-area recruit Albert Means to commit to Alabama in 1999 by paying Means’ high school football coach. What was the going rate? A cool $115,000. For that kind of money, we think you should recruiting the school’s next athletic director – but we digress. Young also supposedly enticed recruit Kenny Smith to attend Alabama with $20,000. Smith committed but never suited up because of academic problems.

The sanctions the Crimson Tide received in 2002: a two-year bowl ban, five-year probation and the loss of 21 scholarships over three years. According to the NCAA the “death penalty” had been considered, which would have led to riots throughout the state.

Young faced 15 years in prison but died in 2006 at the age of 65. Originally thought to be a homicide, it was ruled accidental.

3. Colorado’s Sex Scandal

In December 2005, it was discovered that a group of Colorado football players took recruits to an off-campus party for an alcohol-infused romp. Sadly three women later told police they had been raped either at the party or after it by players or recruits. This incident sent off a chain reaction that revealed the Colorado football team had unsavory characters within its ranks. Chief among them was coach Gary Barnett.

His reactions to the various accusations levied at the program will go down in the annuls of how not to handle a scandal. He allegedly told accusers that he’d back his players “100 percent” if charges were brought. Not exactly a good time to circle the wagons. Then, after former kicker Katie Hnida revealed in Sports Illustrated that she had been raped by a teammate, Barnett quipped that she was an “awful” kicker. Not the appropriate time to critique someone’s play. In the end Barnett was rightfully fired for the lack of institutional control and the deplorable behavior of his players in relation to women and recruits.

2. Miami’s Pell Grant Scandal

You didn’t think we’d leave “The U” off this list, did you? Miami academic advisor Tony Russell doled out some terrible advise during his career at Miami, primarily that it’s easy to falsify Pell Grants to aid students pay tuition. The result was a huge scandal in which a total of $212,969 in Pell Grant funds were kicked back to football players who falsified their applications. With the help of their academic advisor, of course (that is what he’s there for, right?).

During testimony, UM defensive lineman Rusty Medearis talked learned about the racket from his roommates: “They were slapping high-fives and singing and dancing. They kept on saying, ‘measy-oney. (easy money)’ ”

While the Pell grants got the most attention, the school also gave an addition $412,000 in excessive financial aid due to improperly calculating off-campus room and board for 141 football players. Oh, and there was a violation of drug-testing procedure thrown in there. The Hurricanes received a one-year bowl ban and the loss of 31 scholarships and had people crying for the death penalty. As for Russell? He was sentenced to three years in federal prison. Apparently the federal government doesn’t appreciate you scamming them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

1. The Death of SMU

Maybe the best question to ask is, “What rule didn’t SMU break?” Because wading through all the violations is a test of stamina. But the bare essentials are this: 21 players allegedly received roughly $61,000 from a booster slush fund. Among the boosters was Bill Clements, who was on the board of governors at the time and became the governor of Texas just after the scandal broke (that’s great political timing). At one point, when boosters were debating to upkeep the slush fund, Clements spoke with athletic director Bob Hitch. The both decided they “had a payroll to meet.”

These egregious violations occurred while SMU was already on probation. Wanting to make an example of the school, the NCAA came down harder than it’s ever come down before. The “death penalty” barred SMU from playing in 1987 and cancelled all their home games in 1988. Their TV and bowl ban was extended to 1989 and they lost 55 scholarships over four years.

The results of the decision were crippling. SMU didn’t field a team for two years and since the death penalty, the school has had just two winning football seasons. Once a college powerhouse, this past year was the first time SMU had reached a bowl game since the sanctions. The penalty was so devastating, it’s said the NCAA will probably never impose the death penalty again.

Clements was nearly impeached but instead served the rest of his term until 1991, proving that the only thing more corrupt than college football is American politics.


06-12-2010, 10:43 AM
Just to think, Gary Barnett could have been the head coach at Texas.


06-12-2010, 12:07 PM
Fantastic read and I still say USC should have got a tv ban too.

06-12-2010, 12:40 PM
kind of makes what Michigan is going through seem pretty pointless