The Penn State sexual abuse scandal by assistant Jerry Sandusky is perhaps the most shocking and worst scandal throughout the history of college sports. It is hard to compare these sneaky scandals throughout the years, but five in particular stand out. Keep on reading to see our 5 most shocking college sports scandals!
5. Southern Methodist University: 1986 Slush Fund (Football)
Boosters for SMU sent over thousands of dollars in the form of a “slush fund” to football players in under-the-table payments, of which the school administration was aware and approved! Moreover, the governor of Texas chose to ignore the blatant violation. After undergoing extensive investigation and discovery of multiple NCAA violations, the NCAA gave the school the “death penalty” for the 1987 season. The death penalty is the NCAA’s power to ban a school for competing in a sport for at least a year.
As of today, SMU is the only school to ever receive the death penalty. Having been a successful football team before the penalty, SMU football has never truly recovered since.
4. Baylor University: 2003 Murder and 2005 Confession (Basketball)
This murder sparked an investigation of the team because Dennehy had remained at Baylor to play basketball despite not having an athletic scholarship. Further investigation by the NCAA found that head coach David Bliss ignored widespread drug abuse by team members. Bliss was forced to resign and was given a 10 year “show cause” from the NCAA, meaning that he cannot be hired by an NCAA member school for ten years.
3. Duke University: 2006 Sexual Assault Case (Lacrosse)
In March 2006, three of Duke University’s lacrosse players were accused of gang raping a stripper during a party off-campus at the home of the Duke Lacrosse team captains. The arrests and investigation lasted approximately one year. The district attorney at the time, Mike Nifong, labeled the alleged assault a hate crime, filing charges of first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense, and kidnapping. In response to the allegations, Duke cut the 2006 season short, and lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was forced to resign.
However, in April 2007, the three players were declared innocent. All charges were dropped against the lacrosse players. In June 2007, Duke announced a settlement with the three families. Ethical charges were brought against Nifong, as he was speculated to demonize the lacrosse players and fan racial hatred to win demographic votes for his upcoming re-election.The story brought national, infamous attention to the school.
2. City College of New York: 1947-51 Point Shaving Scandal (Basketball)
This point shaving scandal arrested 32 players from 7 schools involved; however, many of the players involved were from the City College of New York. This event was perhaps the first major scandal in college sports. In basketball, point shaving is highly illegal.
The act of point shaving is when players deliberately miss shots or fouls to ensure the team fails to cover the “point spread” — basically gambling with players to keep the final score in a particular margin.
Players who participated in the 1951 scandals received a suspended sentence. These events set a forewarning for future basketball players.
1. Penn State: 1994-2009 Child Sexual Assault Scandal (Football)
The child sex abuse scandal making breaking headlines today centers around former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He has been convicted of sexual abuse and could face up to 373 years in prison. The college is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of the Clery Act. The school has been fined $60 million and the NCAA voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons in an unprecedented rebuke for the school’s failure to stop the sexual abuse.
While Penn state was not given the “death penalty,” they have been banned from post-season bowl games for 4 years and had the number of athletic scholarships reduced from 25 to 15.
These are only five major scandals in college sports; however, there have been many more which not been as publicized. The Penn State scandal is perhaps the most vulgar and shocking in the history of college sports.