Weather Forecast

Click for Grant, Nebraska Forecast

Pitching with Pritch...Programs gone wild PDF Print E-mail

By Larry Pritchett
Past PCHS Activities Director

It wasn’t that long ago that the U, the mighty Miami University, was linked in sentences that also had the words “death penalty” somewhere in them.  But the NCAA didn’t do that, and I didn’t think they would, but as of yet they really didn’t muster out a lot of punishment at all.  
Of the 12 players that are still at the Miami, eight will miss some games and all 12 have to pay some restitution. One player will miss six games and another two players will miss four games. The others will only miss one game.  
The Miami program might still face more sanctions because the investigation is still ongoing. But apparently former booster Nevin Shapiro must have been a bigger donor before the current players got there.
In doing some reading on “Programs gone wild,” I found some lists of other schools that have strayed off the straight and narrow and have gotten some punishment handed to them by the NCAA.  Some of them I remembered, some I didn’t, but I think Miami, even though they didn’t get the SMU death penalty, still ranks right up there with “we will do it our way” attitude. Here are some other schools who got caught.
Baylor Basketball  2004
This one is one of those “The Coach did what?” When a coach pays for a couple of players’ tuition, provides meals and transportation, doesn’t report a drug test and that list isn’t even close to the worst problems the coach has, something has gone wrong.
Coach Dave Bliss encouraged his players to lie to investigators about a murdered player, Patrick Dennehy, and to have them say the murdered player paid for his tuition by drug dealing. Baylor’s punishment was probation for five years, they were prohibited from playing in non-conference games and the Big 12 tournament for one year and lost scholarships and recruiting visits for two years. The coach resigned.
Oklahoma Sooners
Football 1988

The Sooners had been placed on three years of probation for major recruiting violations, and then things got worse.Several players went on various crime sprees that included rape charges, a shooting and quarterback Charles Thompson getting nabbed selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent.
The additional problems brought a two-year ban on TV games and bowl appearances along with scholarship reduction.  Oklahoma was also a feature in Sports Illustrated with the cover featuring Charles Thompson in prison garb which served as the image of a proud football program gone bad. Coach Barry Switzer resigned before the 1989 season.
Miami Football 1996
In this period, the problem was that Pell Grants from the federal government were falsified and that meant that the U was stealing from their Uncle Sam. One academic adviser admitted to falsifying 57 Pell Grants for football payers and getting some $220,000 in kickbacks. That was in addition to $400,000 in illegal payments to players.
The punishment got the adviser a three year full ride to a federal prison, and the U lost 31 scholarships over three years and were given a one-year bowl ban.
If you remember your history, the U had a remarkable recovery and won a national championship in 2001.The current investigation covers 2002 to 2010. Does there seem to be something wrong with this picture?
SMU 1987 Death Penalty
This was the harshest penalty ever handed out to an NCAA team. SMU football was on probation in 1985 for recruiting violations and it was while serving that penalty that the school was found to have paid 13 players some $61,000 from a slush fund provided by boosters.  
The SMU Athletic Director and other members of the department knew about the fund. They were told to stop paying the players, but continued doing so because they had contracts with the players. Their punishment was Death!
The program was shut down in 1987 and the team was told it couldn’t play home games in 1988, so the school just decided not to have a program in 1988. They lost 55 scholarships over four years. When they did start again, Houston beat them 95-21.
The program had one winning season between 1989 and 2008.  SMU has gone to two bowl games the last couple of years, but their punishment is considered the worst ever administered by the NCAA.
There have been other programs that have gotten in trouble that I didn’t have room for here.  Don’t forget the Reggie Bush saga at USC. That could be a whole article by itself  but USC had a big punishment in that they had victories in 2004 and 2005 taken away, they were banned from postseason play for two years, docked 30 scholarships over three years and Bush became the first player to return a Heisman Trophy. Their Coach Pete Carroll didn’t have to resign but he did, and he got his punishment also, because he now has to coach the Seattle Seahawks.