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March 9, 2012

An NCAA Infraction-Filled History

For $1,000 in 1955, Auburn received a $2,000 fine and
probation from the NCAA, while losing a bowl game and
ultimately the Beaube twins.
Unless you've been living under a rock the past 24 hours, you likely heard the news of the point-shaving scandal shaping up on The Plains.  Of course, Varez Ward's connection with any wrong doing is currently under investigation, but there does seem to be some compelling evidence against the Auburn guard.

Consider that in the two games being called into question, Ward turned the ball over a combined seven times in 17 minutes while averaging only 7 points per 40 minutes of play.  On the contrary, against the three opponents between the two games being investigated, the sophomore combined to lose only three turnovers in 87 minutes while averaging more than 24 points per 40 minutes of play.  Things that make you go "Hmmmm"...

It appears the circumstances surrounding Ward could quite possibly be yet another entry in a long list of Auburn infractions dating back to when the NCAA began tracking major violations in the 1950s.  About a year ago, Kyle King at Dawg Sports thoroughly recounted the history of the Tigers' cheating ways.

It all began in 1955 when assistant Hal Herring gave each of the Beaube twins high-school standouts Harry and Robert $500 to come play football at Auburn.  The money was returned, the Beaubes would instead attend school and play at Tulsa, and the Tigers would be placed on probation in January of 1957.  Auburn would run through its regular-season schedule that year unscathed; however, because of the probation, there was no bowl game for the Tigers and no undisputed national championship.

Since then, you'll notice that most of the Tigers' infractions have been football related.  Perhaps you can also see why Auburn is considered to have one of the "dirtiest" programs in the history of college football.  The last time the NCAA caught the men's basketball program at the school committing major violations was in 1991 when, at the same time, the Tigers' tennis program (of all teams) was placed on probation as well.

Now, Auburn's Eric Ramsey reportedly receiving more than $9,000 more than 20 years ago might be one thing, as is Cam Newton getting between $100,000 and $180,000... Well, um, that one hasn't officially made it on the list of infractions yet.  But personally, it's difficult for me to condone any college athlete who receives a little cash under the table here and there.

As one former Georgia player once informed me, and all I care to disclose is that he played during the Wally Butts era, "Sure, I received a little pocket money while I was playing; most of us did.  And [the players] continue getting it today..."
The testimony of "The Rifleman," Chuck
Person, that he received money was
one of Auburn's violations the last time its
basketball program was in major trouble. 

Nevertheless, point shaving is a whole different animal the most despicable way of cheating in athletics which, if true, would be the absolute worst of Auburn's numerous violations.  It's one thing to accept money in order to feed oneself, take a girl out, put gas in the car, buy clothes, or, er, be given a Trans Am.  It's something else to accept money to play poorly and/or lose purposely.

So, if Ward is found to have shaved points, what could be the consequences for the basketball program at Auburn?

There is a historical precedent for shaving points in men's college basketball.  In 1951, 32 players in 86 separate games involving seven schools, including City College of New York (CCNY) and Bradley the championship final teams of the 1950 NCAA Tournament – were accused of point shaving.  A year later, three players from the 1948-49 Kentucky team confessed to throwing a game against Loyola that season.  Soon afterwards, Kentucky All-American Bill Spivey was found to have accepted money from a Brooklyn gambler to shave points during the 1950-51 season.

In 1961, players from 32 schools were arrested for fixing 43 games.  However, since then, only an average of roughly one team per decade has been discovered to be involved in point shaving, including the 1978-79 Boston College squad, 1984-85 Tulane, 1993-94 Arizona State, 1994-95 Northwestern, and Toledo in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

The aftermath of point shaving has been rather detrimental.  Within a few years after winning both the postseason NIT and NCAA Tournament in the same season in 1950, CCNY was no longer a prominent program and today plays on the Division III level.  Kentucky would obviously rebound from its multiple shaving violations, but it came after having to cancel its entire 1952-53 season.

More recently, Tulane would be compelled to cancel four consecutive basketball seasons from 1985-86 to 1988-89.  After having reached six straight national postseason tournaments from 1990 to 1995, Arizona State would not go to the "Big Dance" again until 2003.  Following a trip to the NIT in 1994, Northwestern would win an average of a mere seven games per year over the next four seasons.  And finally, after Toledo averaged 19 wins per season from 2004 to 2007, the Rockets won just 26 combined games over the next four years through last season.

In Auburn's case, it would be difficult to get much worse than the Tigers' two winning years and no NCAA Tournament appearances over the last nine seasons.  Regardless, for an athletic program that has an infraction-filled history, Auburn's very worst violation of all time or, of the cases where the Tigers were actually caught could have transpired only a month ago.

Above all, I'm left wondering why Ward couldn't have been on the take when the Tigers faced and defeated Georgia on February 1st...

1 comment:

khanna khan said...

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