Tuesday, March 3, 2009

College Basketball's Biggest Cheaters..... Who Got Caught: A Series

With the Madness of March right around the corner, BNE has decided to take a look back at some of college basketball's biggest cheaters of all time who got caught, because we all know if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. I'm going to get this disclaimer out of the way right now..BNE is a college football blog. While we do follow college basketball to an extent, by no means do we follow it religiously. We are SEC fans after all.

This post will look at some of the "dis"honorable mentions that didn't make Earl's Top 5 College Basketball Cheaters Who Got Caught of All Time. The next post will cover #5 on the list.

While this list will consist of major Division I-A basketball coaches, let's not forget some of the boosters behind the scandals. And while most coaches like to claim that they never knew what was going on with said boosters, most college fans know that those claims are full of you-know-what.

There are three coaches on Earl's Dishonorable Mention List: Jim Harrick, Eddie Sutton and Kelvin Sampson.

Obviously, we are all familiar with Harrick. There was some debate to include Harrick in the top 5, but ultimately nobody could be pushed out of the top 5 for him. Harrick has a checkered past at three separate universities, UCLA, Rhode Island and Georgia, falsifying expense reports, paying players bills and making academic tests insanely easy. We all know about the damage he did at Georgia, providing Jarvis Hayes with a cardboard box (a little inside joke). But, in all seriousness, damn you Tony Cole (and Jeremy Schaap, who still has a long way to go to catch his father). It's really a shame because Harrick was such a good coach, leading four schools to the tournament, the three mentioned earlier plus Pepperdine.

Junior contemplating just how much a 3-pointer is worth? A coaching career?

Eddie Sutton is one of only a few coaches with more than 800 overall wins. Like Harrick, he has had tremendous success at a number of schools, taking four schools to the tournament, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. Sutton's indiscretions at Kentucky in the mid-80s, though, land him on this list. It all came to a head when an Emery Worldwide package broke open and $1,000 in $50 bills jumped out in transit to high school recruit Chris Mills. The package was from Kentucky assistant Dwane Casey. Sure, payment of recruits goes on all the time, but the cash money literally fell out of the envelope. That's just too good of a story not to make this list. The Wildcats were very close to the death penalty...again (a little foreshadowing to the list's #3 Biggest Cheater of All Time). Sutton and athletic director Cliff Hagan were forced to resign.

I coach the basketball, you seal the envelopes. You got that Dwane? I swear, I ask you to do one damn thing...

Kelvin Sampson is just dumb. Sampson gets fired from Indiana for committing the same infraction he committed at Oklahoma only two years earlier. Really!?! Really!?! Ultimately, Sampson would've never been on this list if he had just committed the infraction once. Sampson placed more than 550 illegal phone calls to recruits while at Oklahoma. The NCAA barred Sampson from recruiting off campus and making phone calls for one year. And yet Sampson made the same mistake at Indiana, making impermissable phone calls to Eric Gordon and other IU recruits. Shame on Indiana for hiring Sampson and shame on Georgia for hiring Harrick. Both schools got what they deserved.

Well played, BoilerSports.com, well played...

Speaking of Harrick, he learned his basketball from the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden and Wooden's famous Pyramid of Success. While I haven't included Wooden on this list because he's known today for his trust and honesty, there were some questions during UCLA's run of 10 national championships in the 1960s and 1970s. The questions mainly circled around Sam Gilbert, known as Wooden's money bag man during the run. Gilbert, who never graduated from UCLA, was a millionaire contractor in the Los Angeles area. And the NCAA did sanction UCLA for Gilbert's interaction with Bruin basketball players, but never vacated any national championships, and only after Wooden had retired.

The fact is that UCLA went largely unpunished because the NCAA didn't want to bring down its marquee team. The same reason why Notre Dame football and Alabama football went largely unpunished during the same time period. Many of Wooden's players claim that Wooden didn't really know what Gilbert was doing for the players.

Many coaches in southern California knew better, including our #2 Biggest Cheater of All Time, who was coaching Long Beach State at the time, claiming that Gilbert wanted to pay one of his stars just because he liked the way he played. "You couldn't be more obvious than Sam Gilbert," said the former Long Beach State coach.

Sorry UCLA fans (because I know so many UCLA fans read BNE), but if you're going to do a post on the biggest cheaters, you can't avoid the biggest programs just because a sainted coach looked the other way.

Coming later this week: #5 Clem Haskins, Minnesota


Anonymous said...

Sampson did not make any wrongful phone calls to Eric Gordon. Shut the hell up and move on!

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