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Top 10 Coaching Scandals in College Sports History

by Staff Writers

College athletics makes up a significant part of not only your college experience but of the national sports obsession. Coaches are paid millions of dollars and receive hefty bonuses for performing well in national championships and bringing major attention and funding to their schools. And while the players still have to go to class make certain grades, they’re often viewed as rock stars on campus and by the general public, not to mention professional sports teams and recruiters. With all of this attention comes a lot of temptation, too. Keep reading for the top 10 coaching (and player) scandals in college history.

  1. Mike Leach, Texas Tech: Former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach has a famous temper, but when he was suspended just before the Valero Alamo Bowl in January 2010, Leach enemies and friends were appalled. The school investigated Leach after a player, Adam James — also son of ESPN college football commentator Craig James — claimed that Leach banished him to a dark closet-like room for three hours after he suffered a concussion. According to ESPN’s website, "a source told The Associated Press that James said Leach told him if he came out, he would be kicked off the team." Leach maintained that he had a doctor examine James and then put him in an equipment room to recover. Other rumors about James’ disrespect and false sense of entitlement towards his status on the team, his teammates and Leach culminated when he told his father about the concussion treatment. Since Leach was let go just before the game, Texas Tech was not required to award him his $75,000 bonus for participating in a BCS bowl, or the $250,000 bonus if they’d won.
     
  2. Rick Pitino, University of Louisville: University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino admitted in 2009 to having had sex with a woman who was not his wife in 2003. He issued a public apology after the woman tried to extort money from him. Despite a claim that Pitino took advantage of her — and may have raped her — the police only charged the woman with extortion, and the University of Louisville president James Ramsey stuck by Pitino. In a twist reported by ESPN, however, the woman and her parents denied ever having made any extortion requests, and believe that Pitino made it all up.
     
  3. Mike Price, University of Alabama: Hard partying Alabama football coach did little to help the image of the powerhouse sports school that also had a reputation for heavy boozing. The school welcomed a new president, Robert Witt, in March 2003, who gave Price a warning to clean up his public drinking. But two months later, Price was fired after he spent around $1,200 on tips at a strip club, drinks, and room service during a night of revelry in Pensacola, FL.
     
  4. Baylor University basketball scandal: Conservative Baylor University was hit with a shocking scandal in 2002 and 2003 that resulted in the mysterious death of a promising athlete and serious allegations of violating NCAA regulations. Two Baylor basketball players, Patrick Dennehy and Carlton Dotson bought weapons after reporting threats made to them by other players, and shortly after, they disappeared. Dennehy’s car was found in Virginia Beach a few weeks later, and police eventually arrested Dotson for the boy’s murder, and he pled guilty in 2005. In addition to the murder, Baylor University President Robert B. Sloan created an investigative panel to research any alleged NCAA violations involving Dennehy’s involvement with the team. They found that head coach David Bliss had ignored drug abuse by team members and was guilty of recruiting violations. Bliss resigned in 2002, and the NCAA imposed sanctions on Baylor’s basketball program.
     
  5. Clem Haskins, University of Minnesota: Minnesota Public Radio reports that this scandal was deemed by the NCAA as being "among the most serious cases of academic fraud in 20 years." In 1999, reporters discovered that University of Minnesota basketball tutor and office manager Jan Gangelhoff had apparently forged homework assignments for players over five years. Apparently head coach Clem Haskins was also involved, as well as academic adviser Alonzo Newby. The University of Minnesota returned 90% of money awarded to them from three NCAA tournaments, a move which saved them from severe NCAA sanctions.
     
  6. John Calipari, UMass and Memphis: Men’s basketball coach John Calipari has been praised for bringing teams to national championships, but was also named "the sleaziest coach" by Slate.com for two separate scandals he was involved in at two separate schools. While Calipari was at University of Massachusetts, he took his team to the Final Four, which they won in 1996. The NCAA took away the honor in 1997 after it was discovered that Calipari and player Marcus Camby had  accepted jewelry, expensive cars and hookers from agents and other insiders. Calipari moved on to coach Memphis, which he brought to the championships in 2008. In 2009, however, the NCAA took away those honors and even made the school pay back tournament revenues. This time, it was because of his participation in a scandal involving SAT fraud.
     
  7. University of Colorado at Boulder football scandal: This famous scandal was a big story in 2004, and everyone from the school to the National Organization for Women became involved. Ten women submitted claims that they were raped and/or sexually assaulted by University of Colorado at Boulder football players at off-campus parties. CU coach Gary Barnett was suspended, but in the spring of that year, some students and members of the community believed that the women were unsure of the real meaning of rape or sexual assault and may have made false allegations against the players.
     
  8. Pokey Chatman, LSU: LSU women’s basketball coach Pokey Chatman had to resign in March 2007, after a story was publicized about her sexual affair with one of her female players. Chatman announced her resignation quietly and did not mention the affair at first. She was allowed to coach the team during the NCAA tournament, but when the real story came out, she opted out of the tournament.
     
  9. University of Colorado recruitment scandal: Another scandal involving the University of Colorado focuses on unethical recruitment practices. Beginning in December 1997, USA Today reports that rape, sexual assault, underage drinking, providing minors with alcohol, strippers, and sexual harassment were a regular part of football recruitment season. Recruits harassed CU athletes and students and high school students, and some scholarships were revoked. Head football coach Gary Burnett was put on administrative leave in February 2002.
     
  10. William & Mary Scandal of 1951: Even before WWII, The College of William & Mary was on its way to becoming an NCAA powerhouse. Head football coach Rube McCray earned a higher salary than any professor at the school, and students with suffering scores and grades were given nearly all of the school’s allotted scholarship money if they were solid athletes. The athletic department, under the direction of McCray, started adjusting high school transcripts and college grades. The school enjoyed the best athletic records in its history until 1951, when the scandal was uncovered. McCray and men’s basketball coach resigned.