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Top 10 College Sports Scandals

Written by: Editorial Staff

October 15, 2012
Filed Under Sports 


Contributed by Info Guru Oliver VanDervoort

Those who are not intimately acquainted with college sports might assume that college sports are squeaky clean.

Those who are intimately acquainted with college athletics know that it is anything but squeaky clean. There have been some doozies of scandals committed under the NCAA’s watch and we are “proud” to bring the you the top 10 college sports scandals.

10. Wisconsin Free Shoe Scandal

Wisconsin Free Shoe Scandal

Even the most jaded college athletics fan probably wouldn’t expect a school like Wisconsin to be guilty of massive NCAA infractions. In 2000, the Badgers’ football program was racked with a problems after 26 players were suspended for opening day after it came out that they had been receiving free shoes from a local sporting goods store.

9. North Carolina Football

North Carolina Football

Under head coach Butch Davis, massive allegations against Tarheel football players involved academic misconduct and improper benefits. When the smoke cleared at Chapel Hill, Davis was fired and fourteen different players served at least a one game suspension.

8. Michigan Basketball Scandal

Michigan Basketball Scandal

Michigan Basketball was at the height of their power thanks in large part to the “Fab Five” five freshman recruits who were considered to be some of the best in the country. Michigan even made it the NCAA finals, losing narrowly to North Carolina. It later turned out that several basketball players, including at least three of the five stars were involved with a booster who was making improper loans to players.

7. Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush

Former USC running back Reggie Bush has the “honor” of being the first Heisman Trophy winner to actually have to give back the award. Bush was found to have received improper benefits with USC. The school was placed on two years of probation that included no post season appearances and lost several scholarships.

6. Baylor Basketball

Baylor Basketball

This makes the list as top 10 college sports scandals because of just how much a coverup went on here. The murder of a Baylor Basketball player led to an investigation that uncovered then head coach Dave Bliss was hiding more than just improper benefits. Baylor players were committing theft and using illegal drugs under Bliss’ watch. The coach was fired and the program was severely punished.

5. Free Shoes University

Free Shoes University

Apparently college athletes love their free shoes, since this is the second such incident on the list. Florida State’s (FSU) infraction is higher on the list because when players were given $6,000 worth of free shoes it was done under the watch of Bobby Bowden, one of the most well respected coaches in the game.

4. Colorado Buffaloes and Gary Barnett

 Colorado Buffaloes and Gary Barnett

Gary Barnett was fired after the 2005 season following a recruiting scandal. An investigation showed that Barnett regularly used sex, drugs and alcohol as recruiting tools. This report came out not long after Barnett had landed himself in hot water after some less than supporting remarks of Katie Hnida. Hnida was the kicker (and only girl on the football team) for Barnett’s Buffaloes when she alleged she was raped. Barnett basically insinuated she had been asking for it.

3. Jim Tressel and Tattoo-Gate

Jim Tressel and Tattoo-Gate

Ohio State football players were trading sports memorabilia for free tattoos. While this constituted improper benefits for the players, this incident would not be this high on the list if not for the fact that their head coach Jim Tressel knew about it. Not only was Tressel apparently aware that this was going on, but he lied to University and NCAA officials when they were conducting their investigation. Several players had to sit out a number of games, and eventually Tressel was forced to resign.

2. SMU


When talking about college sports scandals, simply mention SMU and most football fans will know what you are talking about. This is because SMU is the only program to ever receive the death penalty for their infractions. The “Pony Express” featured two of the best running backs in college football in Eric Dickerson and Craig James. The team was one of the best in the country and it turned out the team was worth every penny of the thousands of dollars that were paid to players. When the NCAA found out that money had been paid to players to come to SMU, they banned the Mustangs from playing football for two years 1987 & ‘88. That punishment crippled the program and the team didn’t post a winning record for nearly 20 years.

1. Penn State

Penn State

The newest scandal could end up being the worst the NCAA has ever seen. This one has aspects of the Ohio State, Florida State and SMU scandals all rolled into one. Former Penn State defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing small boys for years and it turns out several members (including legendary head coach Joe Paterno) of the Penn State administration knew he was doing it. Paterno, his athletic director and even the President of the school colluded to maintain the coverup. The NCAA recently handed out a punishment some are calling harsher than the death penalty. Penn State was fined $60 million, banned from post season play for four years and had 15 new scholarships each year over that span taken away, essentially crippling the program.

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