Niagara Gazette

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September 15, 2013

The 10 biggest college football scandals of the last 10 years

Sports Illustrated has documented explosive allegations against the Oklahoma State University football program, including alleged drug use by players, payments to players and academic misconduct. Will this ultimately rank as one of college football's biggest scandals? We count down the sport’s top 10 scandals of the past 10 years:

10. Washington

Former football coach Rick Neuheisel was fired in June 2003 after admitting to taking part in a pool for the NCAA men's basketball tournament that spring. An NCAA infractions committee found that Neuheisel had violated the organization's rules against gambling, but did not sanction him. Neuheisel later sued the university and the NCAA and reached a settlement awarding him a total of $4.5 million.

9. Miami

A total of 73 Hurricanes players were implicated in 2011 when a booster, Nevin Shapiro, was jailed for running a pyramid scheme from which he gave money, prostitutes, cars and other gifts to players. Shapiro said coaches and university officials were aware of the gifts. A subsequent NCAA investigation determined that 12 players had received impermissible benefits. Those 12 were suspended until making restitution of the gifts. Altogether, the players repaid about $4,000 in gifts received during their recruitment.

8. Alabama

In 2009 it was discovered that Alabama students from 16 sports, including football, were given free textbooks which they in turn sold to other students. The program was forced to vacate a total of 21 wins from the 2005-2007 seasons, pay a fine of more than $40,000 and was placed on three years probation, which ended in June 2012.

7. Arkansas

In April 2012, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long fired Bobby Petrino after the Razorbacks coach was involved in a motorcycle crash while riding with a female staff member with whom, it was later detailed, he was having an affair. Although no NCAA sanctions were leveled against the school, outrage among its fan base mushroomed after it was learned that Petrino, who went 34-17 in four seasons at Arkansas, had hired his mistress, 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, for a job as a student-athlete development coordinator over more than 100 other candidates.

6. North Carolina

Allegations of money from agents and an academic scandal were among the improprieties that led the Tar Heels to suspend 13 players for their season opener against LSU in 2010. However, the academic scandal deepened when misconduct involving a tutor and other improper benefits given to members of the football team were uncovered. Early in 2012, the NCAA imposed a one-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions on top of the school's previous self-imposed penalties, which included 16 vacated wins, the firing of coach Butch Davis and the resignation of athletic director Dick Baddour.

5. Ohio State

A Sports Illustrated investigation published in May 2011 alleged that more than two dozen players traded memorabilia for tattoos during Jim Tressel's tenure as coach of the Buckeyes. Tressel exacerbated the matter by lying to the NCAA regarding his awareness of the improprieties, which led to his forced resignation and sanctions against the program, including a postseason ban in 2012, when Ohio State went 12-0.

4. Toledo

An FBI investigation in 2007 led to the indictment of three football players who allegedly took part in a scheme to shave points in four games during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. One of the players, running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle, admitted to receiving nearly $5,000 in cash, groceries and money orders from Ghazi Manni, a Detroit businessman, in exchange for inside information on the team during those years. The case, which has been delayed 14 times over nearly four years, is scheduled to go before a jury this fall.

3. USC

Allegations of star running back Reggie Bush's acceptance of numerous improper benefits -- including more than $100,000 in gifts and financial benefits from two marketing agents -- led the NCAA to impose a three-year scholarship reduction and a two-year postseason ban on the Trojans' football program in 2010. Bush also voluntarily forfeited the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005.

2. Colorado

Members of the Colorado football team were involved in no fewer than six allegations of rape between 1997 and 2002, including a complaint by Katie Hnida, who became only the second woman to appear on the roster of a Division I team in 1999. Coach Gary Barnett was later suspended, then fired, when in 2004 it was learned that players had hired strippers at recruiting parties.

1. Penn State

The sexual abuse charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had perhaps the most sweeping consequences of any college sports scandal in history. Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, with many of the instances occurring in the university's football facility. Prosecutors alleged legendary head coach Joe Paterno and other university administrators knew about Sandusky’s abuse and ignored it. Paterno lost his job of 46 years when the scandal broke, and he died of cancer a short time later. A month after Sandusky was convicted in June 2012, the NCAA imposed sweeping penalties on the program, including a four-year postseason ban, a drastic reduction of scholarships and a $60 million fine, in addition to vacating all of the school's victories from 1998 through 2011.

Sources: Wikipedia and media reports

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