Fraud is not always fun to talk about. However, it has been a part of sports for years. The most recent and notorious example of fraud might be the ‘selection’ for Qatar as host of the World Cup. Sepp Blatter (former President of FIFA) was suspended from all football activities in 2015 due to his fraud within FIFA. He was involved in fraudulent cases, ongoing corruption trials, and receiving bribery moneys from multiple sources.
As you could probably guess by now, fraud also happens within college sports. In college sports, everybody wants to win. The stakes are extremely high. This urge for success and the pressure that comes with it do not always bring out the best in people. Winning isn’t the only motive behind fraud – the economic aspect is probably an even bigger motivator for fraud when it comes to exams, game results or the recruitment process. In this article we have listed a few of the biggest and most unbelievable fraud cases within college sports for you.
The strippers of Louisville
The NCAA suspended the Louisville men’s basketball team in 2013. The team competed in the national championship in 2013, and to perform well they knew they needed better players. Louisville came up with a very creative solution to recruit better players: hiring strippers for them. Coach Rick Pitino resigned after the scandal was made public. The team also received multiple penalties, including a $600,000 fine.
Check out the full ESPN story of the scandal.
18 years of fraud, at the University of North Carolina
From 1993 till 2011, the University of North Carolina helped their athletes pass exams. More than 3100 student-athletes were wrongly graded in their exams in order for them to pass their classes. The NCAA has a minimum GPA standard that is required for student-athletes to be eligible to compete in their respective sports. All of the students where fraud was detected happened to be student-athletes that needed to pass to be able to keep playing for the university. What a coincidence! The investigation is still ongoing, and the sentences are yet to be announced.
Read here more about professor Jay M. Smith’s story for the New York Times about the fraud
FBI and the Oklahoma Sooners
The University of Oklahoma Head Football Coach, Barry Switzer, was very generous with handing out ‘presents’ while recruiting new players in 1989. He gave players cars and money in exchange for them signing with the Oklahoma Sooners. Switzer got arrested for this, but the situation became worse when quarterback Charles Thompson tried to sell cocaine to a FBI-agent. Well, hello! After the incident, 3 players got arrested. The punishment for the team was not a small one either, the team got banned from the NCAA competition for 2 straight seasons. Their number of total scholarships was reduced as well.
Read the full story about Thompson’s arrest in the LA Times.
The death penalty for Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University (SMU) illegally paid several players in its 1980’s football teams. The NCAA found out about it, and the university was sentenced to death. Whut?! Well, of course the team was not literally given the death penalty. SMU’s season immediately came to an end and the team was not allowed to participate in next year’s competition as well. What used to be a major player in college football, has a mediocre status ever since.
A few years later, a documentary about the scandal was made by ESPN.
61 Florida State players got busted!
Several Florida State student-athletes were accused of receiving the answers for an online exam in 2007. The NCAA found out, which is why the university got cut in their scholarship limits. The student-athletes were part of several teams. All matches and games what were won by these teams in 2006 and 2007, have been declared invalid. Not the kind of team mates you are hoping for!
More information? The New York Times wrote about this scandal.
Prisoner and ex-donor, Nevin Shapiro
Nevin Shapiro is still serving his 20 years prison sentence after he was caught with a so-called “Ponzi scheme.” In a Ponzi scheme you promise investors high profits with little risks. These investors are then repaid with the money of new investors. Through this construction, Nevin Shapiro made his money and became a donor of the University of Miami. In 2011, Shapiro opened a booklet in which he said that he broke several NCAA rules as a donor between 2002 and 2010. He admitted that he paid 72 players through money, materials, prostitutes and other player requests. He also bought a yacht on which he held sex parties.
Read the full Yahoo Sports interview, in which Nevin Shapiro revealed the illegal practices.
400 projects created by the advisor
Head coach of the American Football team of the University of Minnesota, Clem Haskins, urged the school’s graduation advisor to write 400 exams on behalf of the men’s basketball team players. The scam was discovered in 1999 and the head coach was fined a nice $1.5 million. How do you like your exams now, coach?
Check out the New York Times story.
The cheating secret of the Army Black Nights
37 players of the Army Black Nights American Football team were suspended for cheating in 1951. The players did this to pass their exams, and it was much crazier than you might think at first. Curious about the whole story? Check out the movie ‘CodeBreakers’ that exposes the whole story.
2019 college admissions bribery scandal
In 2019, a scandal arose over a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. Students were wrongfully admitted to more than 10 different universities. Mostly students coming from rich families, which paid large sums of money for getting their children into the highest rated schools in the US, found their ways into universities. Rumors go around about photoshopped pictures and videos, picturing these kids as high level athletes. Varsity college coaches would then use these materials to present these kids as new athletes of the team, thus granting them college admissions, in exchange for money. At least 53 people have been charged as part of the conspiracy, one of them being the mastermind William Rick Singer. As a “college admissions advisor”, Singer guided over 750 families through admission processes and is now facing a 65-year prison sentence and a $1.25 million fine.
Are you getting a little upset by all the stories in this article? No need for that! The NCAA, along with the police and FBI, are watching universities and fraud so closely these days that cheating became almost impossible. The NCAA believes that after all these years, they will recognize every single trick according to fraud. CHECKMATE!