At a time when the integrity of college athletes needed validation, it emerged that USC cornerback and recently named team captain Josh Shaw had lied about an injury he suffered Aug. 23. Having sprained both his ankles, Shaw had told school officials that he suffered the injuries when he jumped off a balcony to rescue his nephew from drowning in a pool. This was a lie, and the real reason behind the injuries remains a mystery. The result was an indefinite suspension.
That being said, it is unlikely Shaw would have seen much playing time this season, as his injuries would have warranted more than a half-season’s worth of bench time. However, the lack of integrity affects the university the team represents and damages reputation.
We take a look at five college athletics scandals to damage a university’s reputation.
5.) Florida State University, 2007
Scholarship reductions, probation and other penalties were the result of an academic cheating scandal that spread throughout nine collegiate sports at Florida State in 2007. Baseball, men’s track and field, women’s track and field, men’s swimming, women’s swimming, softball, men’s golf, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football were all shaken by the scandal, which involved 61 athletes receiving “improper” assistance from a learning specialist and tutor. Equating to academic fraud, it was reported that the learning specialist had typed entire sections of papers for athletes, as well as provided answers to online exams. The specialist resigned after the scandal.
4.) University of Minnesota, 1999
On the day before the 1999 NCAA tournament, an article was published, discussing the announcement by then-academic counselor Jan Gangelhoff that she had written over 400 papers for 20 basketball players, both former and current at the time. As a result, four players were immediately suspended, and head coach Clem Haskins, athletic director Mark Dienhart and university vice president McKinley Boston all resigned. The NCAA also imposed four years of probation and reduced scholarships for the team. Two additional tutors later admitted to their involvement in the scandal.
3.) Naval Academy, 1994
26 Midshipmen were among 134 seniors at the Naval Academy involved in an established cheating ring in 1994, in which a copy of an electrical-engineering exam was discovered the night before it was to be administered. The copy was given out to a large number of students. While some students reportedly memorized the answers, others simply attempted to bring the copy into the classroom. In addition to the 26 football players, 62 other students ultimately faced discipline for the scandal after it was thoroughly investigated.
2.) USC, 2005
The Trojan athletic program received intensely harsh penalties, some of the worst ever dealt to a Division I program, when probes by NCAA and USC found that tailback and 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and basketball standout O.J. Mayo accepted gifts from agents. The sanctions, which were widely criticized, included forfeiting the final two wins of the 2004 National Championship season and all wins from 2005. USC was then banned from bowl games in both 2010 and 2011, and was depleted of 30 scholarships over three years. The scandal resulted in Bush forfeiting his 2005 Heisman Trophy, which is now vacant. The basketball team forfeited all wins from the 2007-08 season and did not participate in 2010 postseason play.
1.) Penn State, 2011
On June 22, 2012, longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse after having been indicted in on 52 counts of child molestation dating from 1994 to 2009. The aspect of the scandal that landed it as our No. 1 was the attempted cover up by other parties. Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who conducted an investigation into the scandal, stated that school president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and head coach Joe Paterno had known about the allegations of Sundusky’s child abuse since 1998, and failed to report them. Spanier was forced to resign, and Curley and the legendary Paterno were fired. Paterno died two months later. Among the penalties to the football program were a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason play and a forfeit of all victories between 1998 and 2011. Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.