Today’s Dirty College Coaches Edition
Jim Boeheim, the longtime basketball coach for Syracuse University, has been suspended nine games starting next year AND a reduction of 12 scholarships over 4 years (so 3 per year). This brings to mind, who are the dirtiest college coaches in NCAA basketball today?
1. John Calipari, Kentucky
Calipari has left a trail of NCAA violations in his two previous stints at UMass and at Memphis, and has had scrapes with the NCAA while at Kentucky.
At UMass, he took them to the 1996 Final Four. But, it was discovered his star Marcus Camby had interactions with an agent (which is illegal by NCAA rules). So, they had to vacate their 1996 Final Four run in the history books and endure sanctions. Yet, after all this time, the school is going to retire a jersey for Calipari.
At Memphis, he created a mid-major behemoth with the likes of Derrick Rose. After he left, the basketball program was saddled with sanctions and hasn’t been the same since. One of the major violations was that Rose had someone take his SAT for him, but by the time the NCAA investigation finished, Rose had gone to the NBA. Another major violation was up to $2,000 in travel was paid for Rose’s brother, Reggie. The punishment? The NCAA vacated their 2008 Final Four run and their 38 wins that season and Calipari said it was disappointing to see that happen to his former employer.
At Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe had at least three major violations: how he didn’t really qualify academically for Kentucky with a sub-2.0 GPA, his apartment was paid for by someone, and a coach also demanded someone pay him for recruiting Bledsoe to Kentucky. But, he went to the NBA after one year, so the investigation was rendered useless.
2. Jim Calhoun, UCONN
Calhoun is one of five coaches who had won at least 3 NCAA men’s basketball titles, but did not end on such a high note.
He was suspended for the first three Big East conference games in 2011-2012, and the program was going to be on probation from 2011 to 2014. Other violations were impermissible tickets to recruits and several thousand text messages between a UConn staffer and recruits. Their punishment? Limits on when they could call recruits on the phone, scholarship reduction and two staffers took the blame and were fired. But, they weren’t initially suspended from the postseason.
In 2013, UConn was banned from the NCAA March Madness postseason tournament for failing to qualify academically, known as the APR. He blamed student-athletes leaving early for bringing down their scores, which was a possibility. Kemba Walker, the guard who led them to their 2010-2011 title, said he only read one book cover-to-cover while at UConn for 3 years. Still, other schools do just as fine with players leaving early each year, so that seems like a very flimsy excuse. There are still questions whether they should have kept their 2010-2011 title, as their APR was very close to disqualifying them from March Madness.
Calhoun also toed the line with recruiting Rudy Gay, where UConn was able to pay Gay’s former summer league team to play an exhibition at UConn during the recruiting process. It was legal, but seems very sketchy. In the end, Gay committed to UConn, which upset Maryland Terrapins head coach Gary Williams (note: I am a Maryland fan and didn’t even know about this).
He really operated in a recruiting gray area, didn’t he?
3. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Among the violations was not suspending players for violating a drug test but still playing, staffers helping a student by essentially rewriting his papers, and boosters having access (and being encouraged by athletic department staff) to interact with basketball players.
The NCAA’s punishment is vacating 200 wins and striking them from Boeheim’s record, dropping him from 2nd all-time in games won to 6th, and a $500 fine per win vacated. He is also suspended for the first nine games of next year and 3 scholarships will be taken away each year for the next four years. Lastly, only two of the four coaches can recruit off-campus.
Plus, Boeheim doesn’t have a contract after this season, so this could be the end of Boeheim.
Honorable mention: Roy Williams and the ongoing sham classes scandal at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He may not be directly involved, but it’s not sure if he had a role in it as some suggested it started before he got there. However, he may have let it slide. Former UNC player Rashad McCants said Williams most likely knew, and Williams said that was not possible.